"Who Had Better Immigration Policy, Biden or Trump?" Two Students Weigh In

Melina Ventura


Biden:
“The U.S. needs to support the Biden administration’s border policies because they provide a safe haven for refugees from persecution, allowing them to better their lives and productively contribute to American society.”
— Melina Ventura

Read more about Biden

Ema-lani Ebesu




Trump:
“Although Trump had some missteps with immigration policy - no policy is perfect - his policies moved the US in the right direction by selecting immigrants who will assist the security and economy of the United States.”
— Ema-lani Ebesu

Read more about Trump


The following editorial was originally published in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser on Sunday, December 5, 2021 as part of the "Raise Your Hand" column in the Insights section.


Biden: A Proactive Immigration Platform

By: Melina Venutra, Island School (Kaua’i), c/o 2022

Imagine growing up in a corrupt country, facing assault without justice, being separated from your family with no hope of reunification, living in abject poverty, fearing for your life daily. This is the reality for many outside America’s borders, and just some of the reasons why they so desperately attempt to cross over into a new life. During his presidency, Trump’s border policies devastated many families seeking relief in the American dream, denying them unalienable rights and instead inciting abusive behavior toward migrants. The U.S. needs to support the Biden administration’s border policies because they provide a safe haven for refugees from persecution, allowing them to better their lives and productively contribute to American society.

The Trump administration’s zero-tolerance policy ruled that all illegal border crossings would result in jail, causing more than 3,000 children to be separated from their parents at the border. Immigration case backlog meant that these children could then be detained for months or even years until their case was settled. By criminalizing the quest for refuge, Trump

separated families and placed a harmful stigma on immigrants that is contrary to America’s longstanding humanitarian commitment to protecting the weak and persecuted. President Biden has already taken the appropriate steps to remedy this harm by rescinding the zero-tolerance policy, reversing a xenophobic suspension of visas to Muslim-majority countries, reuniting 36 migrant families, and creating a task force to grant parole, offer trauma and mental health resources, and outline how to avoid future estrangement at the border.

Supporting friendly immigration policies, like the revival of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (the policy giving young immigrants a pathway to stay in the US for study and work), has more than just humanitarian benefits. DACA allows hundreds of thousands of immigrants the chance to pursue the American Dream, while also contributing productively to the US economy. Analysis by the Center for American Progress found that an estimated $9.5 billion in taxes is paid by migrants annually.

Although the Biden administration has greatly changed the situation at the border, some of his critics are still unhappy. Because of his migrant-friendly policies, there have been double the number of immigrants detained compared to 2020 under Trump. Biden’s opposition argue that Trump’s strict immigration platform deported criminals and terrorists and protected American jobs. However, though Trump may have soothed the border situation after Obama’s presidency (who had created a stricter task force and became known as the “deporter-in-chief”), his policies simply enforced stricter punishments of immigrants crossing illegally. By categorizing all immigrants as terrorists, Trump harshly punished the innocent rather than drawing action against actual criminals.

Biden is not allowing a surge of immigrants to enter America, rather he is continuing the proper deferral of immigrants in a way that preserves their dignity, and aligns with America’s founding values.

— Melina Ventura


Biden is not allowing a surge of immigrants to enter America, rather he is continuing the proper deferral of immigrants in a way that preserves their dignity, and aligns with America’s founding values.

Even though he has yet to fulfill all of his promises to improve immigration infrastructure and reverse restrictions on granting asylum, Biden still has acted swiftly to ensure better care of people at the border. Despite an influx of immigrants, under Biden’s administration families are cared for together and young immigrants are given a chance to lead a productive life in America. If the US continues to patiently advocate for Biden’s policies, the US border problems can be resolved in a safe and fair way, and we can help shape America to again be the place in which all people may come to seek refuge —a place for “[the] tired, [the] poor, [the] huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”


Trump: If We Can Save American Lives, American Jobs and American Futures, We Can [Collectively] Save America Itself."

By: Ema-lani Ebesu, Island School (Kaua’i), c/o 2022

Over the last three decades, the United States has confronted a growing immigration crisis as an increasing number of illegal immigrants have entered the country, putting a strain on government resources, burdening taxpayers, state and local governments with substantial costs, and jeopardizing national security, public safety, and the rule of law.

If a country is unable or unwilling to manage its borders, it will lose its independence and sovereignty. A sovereign government with a solid immigration policy determines who is permitted to enter the country, both temporarily and permanently, and picks citizens who will contribute to the republic's intellectual life, economic prosperity, and overall safety.

During Obama’s first three years in office, he deported nearly 1.18 million illegal immigrants, compared to roughly 800,000 deported in Trump’s first three years. In February 2021, there were more than 100,000 immigrants flooding the border in an attempt to enter, three times more than in February 2020.

Compared to both preceding and following presidents, Trump has deported fewer illegal immigrants and had fewer immigrants trying to enter the country. As a result, Trump has done a better job of maintaining America’s independence and sovereignty.

— Ema-lani Ebesu

Compared to both preceding and following presidents, Trump has deported fewer illegal immigrants and had fewer immigrants trying to enter the country. As a result, Trump has done a better job of maintaining America’s independence and sovereignty.

Trump’s merit-based immigration system awards a visa to those who will benefit our safety and economy. This system includes common-sense national security travel restrictions to keep terrorists, jihadists, and violent extremists out. Under Trump, the Department of Justice and Department of Human Services prohibited foreigners who had been “convicted of federal or state felonies, illegal reentry, alien smuggling or harboring, street gang crime, drunk driving, domestic violence, or certain misdemeanors,” from immigrating. As of January 20, 2020, Biden's immigration reform bill proposes returning to the visa lottery system, which picks individuals at random and not on the basis of merit or public safety. With the return to the lottery system, immigrants are not selected based on those who will benefit America.

Migrants also damage Americans’ job opportunities. Trump signed Executive Order No. 13788 in response to the misuse of H-1B visas, temporary visas for individuals coming to America to perform services in specialized occupations or as a model. The order tightly enforces and regulates the laws governing foreign workers. The executive order protected American citizens from being replaced by foreign workers misusing their visas. Allowing those from other countries to come within our borders and compete with native citizens hinders opportunities for our future generations.

Although Trump had some missteps with immigration policy - no policy is perfect - his policies moved the US in the right direction by selecting immigrants who will assist the security and economy of the United States. The execution of his plans brought much-needed constraints to the immigration of criminals and illegal workers. Our nation will be safer and richer with jobs for future generations. A country can no longer be sovereign if it is unable or unwilling to govern who is allowed to enter it, both temporarily and permanently, in order to contribute to its security and economy. Ultimately, thus far, Trump protected our sovereignty better than Biden.

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