Biden’s early reforms are promising – and what the US does can help set standards for the rest of the world
If Donald Trump’s presidency was a lesson in how symbolic acts of cruelty can be used to consolidate power, then his successors are trying to demonstrate that the same is true for benevolence. In just over a month, the Biden-Harris administration has issued a flurry of new directives aimed at reversing some of the worst aspects of the former president’s immigration policy.
Biden has declared an end to the travel restrictions imposed on numerous Muslim-majority countries, and committed to both reviving and expanding the US refugee resettlement scheme. The administration has presented sweeping new immigration reforms to Congress, which if passed would offer a pathway to citizenship for 11 million undocumented people, promised a moratorium on deportations in most instances, and announced a plan to reunite children and parents torn apart by the grotesque family separation policy. On Friday, the US began allowing asylum seekers to cross its southern border for the first time since Trump’s “remain in Mexico” initiative was launched in January 2019.
Daniel Trilling is the author of Lights in the Distance: Exile and Refuge at the Borders of Europe