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Border & Immigration

Report: Reversing Trump Administration Border Polices Won't Be Simple Or Quick

A Border Patrol vehicle blocks a road leading to the construction site for the border wall east of Campo on Sept. 22, 2020.
Matthew Bowler
A Border Patrol vehicle blocks a road leading to the construction site for the border wall east of Campo on Sept. 22, 2020.

The Trump administration has been almost singularly focused on border policy and the treatment of immigrants. From the so-called Muslim Ban to family separation to the border wall, many of the headlines generated by the administration involved what it did along the southern border or at ports of entry.

While president-elect Biden has promised to undo many of these policies, a new report this week from the non-partisan Migration Policy Institute says it won’t be easy, and definitely won’t happen as quickly as many would like.

Report: Reversing Trump Administration Border Polices Won’t Be Simple Or Quick
Listen to this story by Max Rivlin-Nadler.

“They have really done more than any other president has done in the immigration system, so unwinding it is certainly something that a Biden administration has pledged to do,” said Doris Meissner, one of the report's co-authors. “But many of them will take time.”

RELATED: Trump Administration’s ‘Unprecedented’ Asylum Restrictions Could Outlast Pandemic

Meissner, the former head of the now-defunct Immigration and Naturalization Service, says the level of focus and procedural familiarity on immigration issues that the Trump administration brought to the White House will be tough to match for a Biden administration looking to reverse these policies.

“They will certainly take a level of focus and effort that was quite unique to the Trump administration,” Meissner said. “I think that’s part of the more subtle issue that’s important to understand, was that the Trump administration was entirely preoccupied with immigration issues.”

President-elect Biden has promised to end the controversial “Remain-In-Mexico” program, which has sent thousands of asylum-seekers back to Mexico. But the process by which he’d be able to end this, and to do so without prompting a further logistical and humanitarian nightmare, has yet to be laid out.

Meissner says ramping up the amount of asylum officers to process these asylum-seekers at the southern border will be vital. The Trump administration has sought to downplay the role of asylum officers.

But by empowering these asylum officers, asylum-seekers could have years shaved off the time it normally takes to make a determination about their case in immigration court.

“The idea is to have asylum officers who are specially trained and who are credible, respected for this skill, actually adjudicate these cases,” Meissner said.

And as much as the Trump administration and president-elect Biden like to lay out their differences on things like immigration, there is considerable overlap. Meissner says that includes support of Mexico’s militarization of its southern border in response to Central American migration.

The Biden transition team has been laying out its priorities on its website, which has been updating throughout the week. The president-elect has yet to update his immigration plans since winning last week’s election.