Immigration Overhaul

March 19, 2021 • Volume 31, Issue 11
Would a border crisis derail efforts to make U.S. policy more welcoming?
By Val Ellicott


On his first day in office, President Biden began advancing measures that would reverse his predecessor's hard-line immigration policies, eventually legalize millions of undocumented immigrants and ensure that the United States meets what he called “its responsibilities as both a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants.” But advocates of a fresh approach to immigration face major challenges. New waves of asylum-seekers, including record numbers of unaccompanied minors, are reaching Southern border checkpoints, straining facilities and fueling opposition to a less-restrictive immigration policy. Congressional Republicans have panned Biden's legislative proposal as “blanket amnesty,” and a federal judge quickly blocked his early bid to suspend deportations. Immigrants' advocates and progressive lawmakers want Biden to dismantle former President Donald Trump's restrictive asylum policies more quickly, even as a massive backlog of immigration court cases threatens to undermine Biden's plans. In addition, experts say, many of Trump's hundreds of immigration policy changes are so deeply woven into the federal bureaucracy, it could take years to undo them.

Photo of a boy walking amid tents at a migrant shelter in Tijuana, Mexico, on December 17, 2020. (AFP/Getty Images/Guillermo Arias)
A boy walks amid tents at a migrant shelter in Tijuana, Mexico, on Dec. 17. The Biden administration faces major challenges in implementing its less-restrictive immigration policies as new waves of asylum-seekers reach the Southern border. (AFP/Getty Images/Guillermo Arias)
ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Immigration and Naturalization
Mar. 19, 2021  Immigration Overhaul
Feb. 24, 2017  Immigrants and the Economy
Sep. 02, 2016  U.S.-Mexico Relations
Oct. 23, 2015  Immigrant Detention
Sep. 27, 2013  Border Security
Mar. 09, 2012  Immigration Conflict
Dec. 2010  Europe's Immigration Turmoil
Sep. 19, 2008  America's Border Fence
Feb. 01, 2008  Immigration Debate Updated
May 04, 2007  Real ID
May 06, 2005  Illegal Immigration
Jul. 14, 2000  Debate Over Immigration
Jan. 24, 1997  The New Immigrants
Feb. 03, 1995  Cracking Down on Immigration
Sep. 24, 1993  Immigration Reform
Apr. 24, 1992  Illegal Immigration
Jun. 13, 1986  Immigration
Dec. 10, 1976  Illegal Immigration
Dec. 13, 1974  The New Immigration
Feb. 12, 1964  Immigration Policy Revision
Feb. 06, 1957  Immigration Policy
Nov. 27, 1951  Emigration from Europe
Feb. 09, 1945  Immigration to Palestine
Sep. 30, 1940  Forced Migrations
Apr. 18, 1939  Immigration and Deportation
Jul. 27, 1931  Deportation of Aliens
Mar. 12, 1929  The National-Origin Immigration Plan
Aug. 19, 1927  Immigration from Canada and Latin America
Nov. 01, 1926  Quota Control and the National Origin System
Jul. 12, 1924  Immigration and its Relation to Political and Economic Theories and Party Affiliation
Bilateral and Regional Trade
Civil Rights and Civil Liberty Issues
Crime and Law Enforcement
Domestic Issues
Federal Courts
General Employment and Labor
General International Relations
General Social Trends
Humanitarian Assistance
Infectious Diseases
International Law and Agreements
North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)
Party Politics
Party Politics
Powers and History of the Presidency
Regional Political Affairs: Latin America and the Caribbean
State, Local, and Intergovernmental Relations