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Immigration a Top Issue for Voters in 2020

Trump and Biden Offer Contrasting Prescriptions

By: Nadia Faour, Mason Votes 2020 Online Editorial Team

Cars approach a U.S. border checkpoint in Champlain, NY. Photo by: bobbsled (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

With November 3rd coming up in just 4 days, a key issue shaping voter preferences in the 2020 presidential election is immigration. President Trump and Vice President Biden have a vastly different view on immigration policy in regard to paths to citizenship, ICE, and overall views of immigrant’s place in the United States economy.

President Trump is known to put great emphasis on immigration and has been speaking on his immigration policy goals since the day he announced his first presidential campaign. Nearly four years later, President Trump still intends to crack down hard on immigration and limit the number of immigrants coming to the United States, particularly through the southern border.

Biden puts less emphasis on strict border laws and wants to transition into a less restrictive agenda than that of Trump.

A signature issue in the Trump administration has been strenuous border security. The implementation of a southern border wall is one of president Trump’s central policies goals in hopes of lowering the number of undocumented immigrants crossing the border.

Neither Biden nor Trump are in favor of decriminalizing illegal crossing of the border, although Biden has promised to lower the number of border related criminal prosecutions.

Vice President Biden opposes a wall at the southern border, instead supporting “screening procedures at our legal ports of entry and investing in new technology.”

During the second and final presidential debate, President Trump heavily criticized the ‘catch and release’ policy. Vice President Biden pointed out that the ‘catch and release’ was beneficial for immigrant families seeking a hearing on their case. President trump called ‘catch and release’ a “disaster.”

The two candidates also differ immensely on their views of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. This program began accepting applicants under the Obama/Biden administration back in 2012. In 2017, President Trump announced his strong opposition to DACA and announced plans to terminate the program. Trump has said he would reject the acceptance of DACA applicants, while the Biden campaign has discussed reinstating and expanding the DACA program to include protections for parents of Dreamers and eligibility for student financial aid. Biden has emphasized the positive impact that the DACA program has had on the economy and wants to invest in the future by further continuing the program.

Access to asylum in the United States is another big factor in immigration policy. The Trump administration has implemented ‘migrant protection protocols’ which limit the number of immigrants seeking asylum. Biden has stated he will end that practice and expand the number of immigrants able to enter the country to seek asylum.

The COVID-19 pandemic has necessitated changes to immigration policy to prevent international virus spread. The Trump administration has eliminated many immigration programs and terminated many cases of new immigrants seeking entry or asylum. The long-term economic effects of these actions are unknown and a point of disagreement among the two presidential candidates. Biden’s campaign has constantly put an emphasis on the importance of immigrant’s role in the U.S. economy, but has not explicitly stated how they plan to tackle the spread of COVID-19 while being able to keep immigration a key factor of the economy.


U.S. border checkpoint photo by: bobbsled (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

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