Harris Targets DACA, Immigration Reform For First 100 Days
Law360 (December 8, 2020, 6:44 PM EST) –
Vice President-elect Kamala Harris promised in a Tuesday speech to reinstate protections for young immigrants and send immigration legislation to Congress during the incoming administration’s first 100 days in office, doubling down on the campaign’s pledge to dismantle the Trump administration’s immigration agenda.
In Harris’ first major immigration speech since the election at the National Immigrant Integration Conference, the California senator and daughter of immigrants from Jamaica and India said that she and President-elect Joe Biden plan to “right the wrongs of the last four years.”
The incoming administration’s early priorities including resuming the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, an Obama-era program that gives deportation relief and work permits to certain unauthorized immigrants who came to the U.S. as children, and ending President Donald Trump’s travel ban targeting citizens of Muslim-majority nations, she said.
“In our first 100 days, we will send an immigration bill to Congress, reinstate DACA [and] repeal harmful and discriminatory policies like the Muslim ban,” she said at the virtual conference.
She added that later on, the incoming administration will “repeal indiscriminate enforcement policies that tear families apart and make us less safe,” indicating a return to prioritizing unauthorized immigrants with criminal records for arrest, rather than families, as did the Obama administration.
“Together, we will build a better, more humane immigration system,” Harris said.
Her remarks show the incoming Biden administration’s pro-immigrant messaging stands in stark contrast to Trump’s own efforts to paint immigrants as criminals and as taking jobs from American workers.
Trump has backed up that messaging during his first term with sweeping policies to restrict asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border and make it more difficult and expensive for American businesses to hire foreign workers. He has also tried to end DACA, leaving the immigration program only partially alive since 2017.
On Friday, a New York federal judge ordered the administration to fully resume the program, and the U.S. immigration agency announced on Monday that it would again accept first-time DACA requests effective immediately.
Biden’s victory in November sets the stage for an end to that immigration regime. In Biden’s campaign platform, the former vice president pledged to accept more refugees, reverse many of Trump’s immigration executive orders and actions, and end for-profit immigration detention, among other changes.
He has also put forward more ambitious proposals, including to expand legal immigration, that would require Congress’ cooperation. However, with Congress frequently at a stalemate over immigration, and the fate of the Senate’s composition resting with two run-off races in Georgia next month, substantive immigration legislation could face an uphill battle.
A spokesperson for the Biden transition team didn’t respond to a request for more information on the administration’s immigration plans on Tuesday.
–Editing by Bruce Goldman.
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