Despite a pledge to halt immigrant removals, the Biden administration “has deported hundreds of immigrants in its early days,” The Associated Press reports.
President Joe Biden “while campaigning, had promised he would put a stop to deportations for 100 days, a move that was welcomed by immigrant advocates looking to see if he was serious about making immigration reform a priority,” Politico reported in early February. Almost as soon as Biden took the oath of office, eager to draw a distinction between his administration and the Trump administration, which took a hard line on illegal immigration, he signed an executive order issuing that moratorium.
A month ago, however, a Texas judge barred the United States government from putting that halt to removals, noting that the administration had failed “to provide any concrete, reasonable justification for a 100-day pause on deportations.”
“A federal judge last week ordered the Biden administration not to enforce a 100-day moratorium on deportations, but the ruling did not require the government to schedule them,” the Associated Press noted. “In recent days, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has deported immigrants to at least three countries: 15 people to Jamaica on Thursday and 269 people to Guatemala and Honduras on Friday. More deportation flights were scheduled Monday.”
Immigration advocates track ICE flights and have noted that, as recently as February 15th, immigrants seeking asylum in the United States have been returned to their home countries.
Progressive activists, horrified by the continued deportations, are also quick to absolve Biden of responsibility, suggesting that the Trump administration’s immigration policies were so draconian that they have their own momentum, and Biden is powerless to stop certain removals.
But the Biden administration, while issuing the deportation halt, has left a number of Trump-era immigration hurdles in place, including a provision that allows ICE to “expel” certain illegal immigrants seeking asylum rather than go through a formal deportation process, under the theory that unscreened individuals from other countries are a threat to public health because they could be carrying COVID-19.
The Biden administration has not lifted that hurdle despite activist pleas.
There is increasing speculation that, despite assurances to the contrary, Biden’s reformed immigration policies are not going to differ markedly from Trump’s. On Tuesday, The Daily Wire reported that, despite openly criticizing President Donald Trump for keeping “kids in cages” during an immigration crisis in 2018, the Biden administration opened an illegal immigrant detention facility specifically designed to house children.
“The emergency facility — a vestige of the Trump administration that was open for only a month in summer 2019 — is being reactivated to hold up to 700 children ages 13 to 17,” The Washington Post said. “Government officials say the camp is needed because facilities for migrant children have had to cut capacity by nearly half because of the coronavirus pandemic. At the same time, the number of unaccompanied children crossing the border has been inching up, with January reporting the highest total — more than 5,700 apprehensions — for that month in recent years.”