Crash Course Candidate: Redefining asylum and immigration

As a first time voter in the 2020 presidential election, I know that it is vital to not simply vote along party lines but to thoroughly understand the best solutions to the trending—but often misunderstood—topic of illegal immigration. 

Building a physical southern border is not only rudimentary but also does not address the main forms of unauthorized residency in the U.S. Border protection should be focused on ports entry point where most illegal crossings take place. President Donald Trump’s irresponsible restructuring of funds is wasteful and ineffective. 

Also, many attempting to cross the southern border are asylum seekers. As outlined in Joe Biden’s policy, there should be pathways in place to help such people instead of shutting them out. The process of applying for and processing asylum claims must be streamlined to efficiently allow those with legitimate claims to enter legally. 

Biden plans to expand visas mostly to high-skilled workers. The Pew Research Center ranks the U.S. in the middle of developed countries in terms of the percentage of immigrants with post-secondary education. However, a large number of undocumented aliens have overstayed their visas. Biden must include ways to circumvent this problem to help the economy and prevent illegal immigration. 

For the 11 million undocumented aliens currently residing in the U.S., a path to citizenship must be built. According to America’s Voice, an organization that supports immigration reform, naturalization will result in a $568 billion GDP revenue increase in ten years. This contrasts with the estimated $114 billion needed to remove all undocumented immigrants. Although Biden’s administration hopes to “aggressively advocate for legislation,” it does not have a definitive method in place.

While many of Biden’s policies mirror those of his fellow Democratic candidates, his more moderate stance is the most beneficial for our nation as a whole. For example, one of Bernie Sanders’ leading goals to decriminalize immigration altogether is questionable. 

The 1929 law that criminalized border crossing was not widely enforced until President George W. Bush with Operation Streamline. Supporters of decriminalization like Sanders  argue that even under these presidents the law was rarely enforced. However, by completely forgoing this law, illegal crossing will be encouraged. More energy should be put toward structuring legal pathways for those in need of asylum and with legitimate reasons to immigrate. 


Bernie Sanders

The progressive Bernie Sanders is one of the biggest advocates for creating a path toward naturalization for Dreamers. His official immigration policy calls for expanding DACA and Deferred Action for Parents of American and Lawful Permanent Residents. 

Sanders wants to provide naturalization for all 11 million undocumented immigrants currently in the U.S.  

The Vermont senator proposed completely restructuring Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection by refocusing their efforts on drugs and firearms instead of people crossing the border illegally. Outlined in Sanders’ official policy, the “deportation, enforcement, border and investigatory authority would return to the Department of Justice.”


Donald Trump

 “Build the Wall,” one of many 2016 campaign slogans, remains one of  President Trump’s main policy issues for his 2020 candidacy. Trump promised to build a 450-mile wall along the U.S.-Mexico border by the end of this year. So far, only 101 miles of outdated fencing has been rebuilt. Although Congress already approved $1.3 billion toward the border, the administration will allocate another $7.2 billion from the Pentagon to further construction—bringing the grand total of federal funding to $18.4 billion.

The Trump administration’s most infamous action in immigration policy—ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals—is in the hands of  the U.S. Supreme Court. The DREAM Act protects illegal immigrants who entered the U.S. before the age of 16. Trump’s rollback on this Obama-era policy leaves more than 700,000 people in limbo. 

Trump also calls for more restrictions on temporary residence. His administration will restrict H-1B, L-1 and international student visas. This will prevent the possibility of immigrants who simply overstay their visas, who comprise approximately half of the total illegal immigrant population.


Joe Biden

The former Vice President Joe Biden is more moderate in regard to immigration. His official policy outlines a broad plan for 2020.

Biden plans on ending the separation of families at the border and expanding the asylum system. He will execute this through reinvesting in case management programs to give families the aid they need.

As a part of the administration that created DACA and DAPA, Biden will undo the Trump administration’s rollback on the policy. Biden also plans on reinstating the program and ensuring that Dreamers are eligible for federal student aid.