Jessica M. Vaughan, director of policy studies at the Washington, DC-based Centre for Immigration Studies, has explained to Sputnik how Joe Biden will craft the US immigration policy in the wake of Donald Trump's legacy.
Sputnik: Joe Biden has reversed a series of executive actions taken by Donald Trump, including an order that blocked many Green Card applicants from entering the country. What is the primary objective of such a policy?so that Americans who had been laid off or lost jobs because of the pandemic shutdown, would have first access to new jobs. And also to slow the spread of the coronavirus worldwide. The Biden administration seems to believe that these new arrivals will not get in the way of Americans returning to work and believes that it will be possible to limit the spread of the coronavirus with these new arrivals. It's hard to know for sure because the exact rules have not been announced, but it's clear that they simply want to overturn the Trump policy and allow immigration to continue regardless of the pandemic.
Sputnik: How safe is it now to ease immigration amid the pandemic?
Jessica M. Vaughan: I don't think it is safe at this time and most countries in the world don't think it's safe at this time, because there are restrictions on travel throughout most of the world, either barring people from entering or requiring people to quarantine for periods of time after arrival. And it has not been announced that Biden wants to have any of those controls. So we have to assume that these new arrivals will be coming straight to our communities. But I think it's even more of a problem that they will have immediate access to the labour market. And this could cause problems for Americans who've been displaced because of the pandemic and who need these jobs as well. And also remember that we're in a very difficult time for illegal immigration, too. As Biden has let up on border security, we now have thousands of new illegal immigrants coming in every single day.
Sputnik: About 10 million of the 22 million workers who lost their job as a result of the pandemic remain unemployed, which could account for the unemployment rate reaching a historic high of 6.3 percent in January. Why is the Biden administration so focused on immigration rather than tackling unemployment among US citizens?
Jessica M. Vaughan: It will have a profound effect on the US economy. His bill now before Congress contemplates legalising all illegal migrants who've arrived since 1 January of this year and admitting all of their family members abroad right away with work permits. And this is going to be a shock to the labour market. A surplus in workers means that wages are likely to decline and it's going to increase the number of people who can't find a job or are forced to work part-time or may drop out of the labour market altogether. And that increases the number of people who are going to be dependent on public assistance. It's going to be expensive and difficult for Americans and legal immigrants who've been here for some time to compete with this new influx of millions of workers into the workforce.
Sputnik: Almost every move of Biden is described by the mass media as erasing Trump's legacy, especially when it comes to immigration. At the same time, his administration reopened a detention site for migrant children which is expected to hold 700 kids between the age of 13 and 17. How does that sit with Biden's desire to repeal laws relating to Trump's immigration policies?
Jessica M. Vaughan: Well, Biden is finding out that some of these policies that Trump had were done for very important border security reasons and Biden's statements, in the campaign and after he became president, that he was going to let people in over the southern border have caused a new influx of people trying to get here illegally. And the promise of amnesty is also motivating people to come here illegally. So he's finding now that to avoid a crisis at the border, he's going to have to not release people immediately and at least avoid the optics of a mass influx of people at the border. And that would be politically damaging. So he's kind of scrambling now, but it really is already out of his control and I think already has created problems for him politically. But the problems are going to continue in the communities that are forced to accept all of these new migrants.
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