Asylum seekers cross the border with Mexico in San Diego, California. Picture taken on November 28, 2023.

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Trump vs. Biden on immigration: A side-by-side policy comparison

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Photo Credit: Reuters Connect/Qian Weizhong

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Special thanks to Anjali Bhatt and Melina Kolb for additional editing and Michael Clemens for comments.

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As the 2024 US presidential election approaches, immigration remains a top priority for over half of Americans. The Pew Research Center found that 80 percent of American voters across the political spectrum disapprove of the country's response to migrants at the US-Mexico border, where the influx reached an all-time record in 2023. While Americans are united in their disapproval of current immigration policy, they are divided on how to fix it. About half of Americans—including 42 percent of Democrats—support mass deportations of undocumented immigrants. Yet, 56 percent of Americans—including 43 percent of Republicans—support expanding legal immigration opportunities. Almost half of Americans support expanding legal work permission for asylum seekers, and 60 percent support faster processing of asylum seekers' claims.

This page provides a useful resource to track major US immigration policy changes between 2016 and June 2024 and compare the actions of former President Donald J. Trump and President Joseph R. Biden Jr. or their administrations. Actions are organized into four categories: border, asylum, legal immigration, and other policies. For a full list of Trump's executive actions on immigration, see the Migration Policy Institute's Four Years of Profound Change: Immigration Policy during the Trump Presidency.
 

Border Policies | Asylum Policies | Legal Immigration Policies | Other Policies

 Note: Actions "by Trump" or "by Biden" in the tables refer to either the president or his administration.

Border Policies

Table 1 Border wall

Start Date: January 2017, by Trump

What It Is: There are approximately 654 miles of barriers along the 1,933 mile US-Mexico border: 354 miles of physical barriers (i.e., fences, walls, bollards, "Normandy" barriers) and 300 miles of vehicle barriers. Building a physical wall along the entirety of the southern border—and forcing Mexico to pay for it—was one of Trump's critical campaign promises in the 2016 presidential race.

Current Status: Continued on a smaller scale under Biden

Trump

October 1, 2016 - September 30, 2021: Between fiscal years 2017 and 2021, Congress appropriated and Trump authorized $5.8 billion for the construction and repair of physical barriers along the US-Mexico border. Trump also declared a national emergency at the southern border during this time to divert roughly $10.5 billion in federal funding to border wall construction. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) built in total 458 miles of physical barriers using these funds, including 52 miles of new barriers—walls and fences in "locations where no barriers previously existed."

January 25, 2017: Trump signed Executive Order (EO) 13767, which directed DHS to "plan, design, and construct a physical wall along the southern border" using existing federal funding.

Biden

January 20, 2021: Biden issued Proclamation 10142, which suspended all border wall construction, rescinded Trump's national emergency declaration, and redirected funds that Trump diverted for border wall construction.

October 5, 2023: Biden's DHS announced plans to build up to 20 miles of physical barriers along the US-Mexico border. Biden said his administration was required by law to continue building the border wall because Congress had appropriated funding for this cause in 2019. Biden's DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas instead said border wall construction was necessary "to prevent unlawful entries into the United States."

Table 2 Changes to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) policies: Interior enforcement

Start Date: January 2017, by Trump

What It Is: Expands the category of migrants classified as priorities for deportation and disqualifies "sanctuary cities" and other sanctuary jurisdictions that protect migrants from deportation from receiving federal grants. Prior to Trump, only migrants convicted of serious crimes were considered priorities for deportation. Under Trump, migrants convicted of any criminal offense (including minor crimes, such as moving violations) were considered priorities for deportation, as were migrants with pending criminal charges and migrants who had committed criminal acts—even if they had not been charged.

Current Status: Reversed by Biden in January 2021

Trump

January 25, 2017: Trump issued EO 13768, which established a new, more aggressive interior enforcement regime within the United States.

Biden

January 20, 2021: Biden issued EO 13993, which revoked Trump's EO 13768.

Table 3 Changes to ICE policies: Detention of pregnant women

Start Date: December 2017, by Trump

What It Is: Permits ICE to hold pregnant women in detention facilities, ending the Obama-era practice of generally releasing them.

Current Status: Reversed by Biden in July 2021

Trump

December 14, 2017: Trump's ICE issued Directive 11032.3, which outlined procedures on how to identify, monitor, track, and house pregnant detainees. Between calendar years 2017 and 2018, the number of total detentions of pregnant women increased from 1,160 to 2,098.

Biden

July 1, 2021: Biden's ICE issued Directive 11032.4, which ordered, "Generally, ICE should not detain, arrest, or take into custody…individuals known to be pregnant, postpartum, or nursing."

 

Table 4 "Metering" at the US-Mexico border

Start Date: February 2016, by President Barack Obama; practice expanded by Trump in April 2018

What It Is: Limits the number of asylum seekers allowed to enter the United States each day at ports of entry along the southern border due to actual or perceived lack of asylum request processing capacity. Metered asylum seekers wait indefinitely in Mexico to enter the United States at a port of entry and apply for asylum. There is no way for asylum seekers to know how long they will need to wait and no official way to hold their "spot" in line. At its peak in August 2019, approximately 26,000 migrants were waiting on metering lists at the southern border.

Current Status: Replaced by an electronic metering policy by Biden in May 2023 

Trump

April 27, 2018: The Trump administration officially expanded the practice of metering at ports of entry.

March 21, 2020: Trump's Customs and Border Protection (CBP) largely suspended asylum processing after Trump's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) authorized Title 42 deportations. As of November 2020, approximately 15,000 migrants were waiting on metering lists, and most of them had been waiting for nine months or more due to Title 42.

Biden

November 1, 2021: Biden's CBP rescinded Trump's metering policy.

May 11, 2023: Biden's DHS and Department of Justice (DOJ) issued a final rule, which in effect authorized "electronic metering" with large exceptions not present in the Trump rule that vastly expanded access to asylum. The rule bans asylum seekers from entering the United States for five years unless they book an immigration appointment through the "CBP One" app. Asylum seekers are forced to wait indefinitely at the border until they secure an appointment, which are extremely limited.

Table 5 Zero-tolerance policy

Start Date: April 2018, by Trump

What It Is: Requires US Attorney's Offices along the US-Mexico border to criminally prosecute all illegal immigration cases referred to them by DHS. The Trump administration used this "zero-tolerance" policy to separate migrant children from their parents at the border (see Family Separation below).

Current Status: Terminated by Biden in January 2021

Trump

April 6, 2018: Trump's Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the zero-tolerance policy, effective immediately.

May 7, 2018: Sessions announced that DHS would refer "100 percent" of illegal immigration cases to DOJ for prosecution.

June 20, 2018: Trump issued EO 13841, which excluded parents traveling with children from the zero-tolerance policy.

Biden

January 26, 2021: Biden's Attorney General Monty Wilkinson rescinded the zero-tolerance policy.

Table 6 Family separation

Start Date: May 2018, by Trump

What It Is: Designates all migrant children at the border as "unaccompanied alien children" and places them into the custody of the Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), even if they traveled to the United States with their parents or other family members. Under Trump's zero-tolerance policy, DOJ criminally prosecuted all migrants who were caught illegally crossing the southern border (see Zero-Tolerance Policy above). As US law prohibits children from being held in criminal detention, when parents or guardians of migrant children were referred by DHS to DOJ for prosecution, the federal government would reclassify these migrant children as "unaccompanied" and place them into ORR custody.

Current Status: Terminated by Trump in June 2018

Trump

May 7, 2018: Trump's Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that DHS would refer "100 percent" of illegal immigration cases to DOJ for prosecution. Accordingly, DHS began separating families once migrant parents were referred to DOJ for prosecution and detained.

June 20, 2018: Trump issued EO 13841, which ended the practice of family separation. Between May 7, 2018 and June 20, 2018, more than 2,700 migrant children were separated from their parents or family.

Biden

February 2, 2021: Biden established the Interagency Task Force on the Reunification of Families to reunite remaining separated children with their families.

Table 7 Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP, or "Remain in Mexico")

Start Date: January 2019, by Trump

What It Is: Requires asylum seekers from Brazil and Spanish-speaking countries to remain in Mexico while their claims are processed in US immigration courts. After either arriving at a port of entry along the southern border or illegally crossing the border, asylum seekers are given a date and time to appear in US immigration court and sent back to Mexico (unlike "metering," wherein asylum seekers are neither processed nor provided a court date). Between January 2019 to January 2021, between 68,000 and over 71,000 people were sent to Mexico under MPP. Asylum seekers returned to Mexico were put at risk of kidnapping, extortion, and rape; denied access to basic services like health care and education; and had their right to seek asylum in the United States systematically violated. Excluded from MPP are unaccompanied children, citizens of Mexico, migrants processed for expedited removal, migrants with "known physical/mental health issues," migrants with criminal records, and migrants determined by an asylum officer to "more likely than not" face torture or persecution in Mexico.

Under Biden's version of MPP (MPP2), all asylum seekers from the Western Hemisphere (excluding Mexicans) were forced to "remain in Mexico." MPP2 expanded the process by which asylum seekers "could be removed from the program due to a fear of persecution of torture in Mexico," gave asylum seekers more opportunities to find legal representation, and vaccinated asylum seekers against COVID-19.

Current Status: MPP/MPP2 terminated by Biden in August 2022 but blocked by a US district court in December 2022

Trump

January 28, 2019: Trump's CBP started implementing MPP at the San Ysidro port of entry. Over time, MPP implementation was expanded to the Calexico, El Paso, Laredo, Brownsville, Eagle Pass, and Nogales ports of entry.

March 23, 2020: Trump's DHS and Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) suspended hearings for asylum seekers placed in MPP due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Biden

January 21, 2021: Biden's DHS announced it would stop new enrollments in MPP, which effectively suspended the program.

February 2, 2021: Biden issued EO 14010, which directed the DHS Secretary to assess whether to terminated or modify several US immigration policies, including MPP.

June 1, 2021: Biden's DHS terminated MPP.

August 13, 2021: A US district court blocked the Biden administration from terminating MPP, ruling that Biden's DHS violated the Administrative Procedure Act.

August 24, 2021: The Supreme Court upheld the August 2021 US district court decision and denied a stay to block the reimplementation of MPP.

December 2, 2021: The Biden administration reinstated MPP, as well as expanded the program's eligibility (MPP2).

June 30, 2022: The Supreme Court ruled that the Biden administration had the authority to end MPP/MPP2 and remanded the case back to the US district court.

August 8, 2022: Biden's DHS terminated MPP/MPP2.

December 15, 2022: A US district court again blocked the Biden administration from terminating MPP/MPP2 by issuing a stay.

Table 8 Changes to ICE policies: Expanded expedited removal

Start Date: July 2019, by Trump

What It Is: Authorizes DHS to quickly deport migrants without allowing them to present their case before an immigration judge. Excluded from this policy are migrants who express "a fear of return to his or her country." Prior to Trump, expedited removal could apply to migrants who had illegally entered the United States within the past 14 days and were apprehended within 100 miles of a land border. Under Trump, all migrants who had illegally entered the United States within the past two years were subject to expedited removal.

Current Status: Reversed by Biden in March 2022

Trump

July 23, 2019: Trump's DHS issued a notice that significantly expanded eligibility for expedited removal.

September 27, 2019: A US district court blocked Trump's expanded expedited removal policy from taking effect.

June 23, 2020: A federal appeals court reversed the district court's ruling.

October 16, 2020: Trump's expanded expedited removal policy officially took effect. Approximately 17 migrants were deported under this policy before Biden took office on January 20, 2021. 

Biden

March 21, 2022: Biden's DHS issued a notice that rescinded Trump's expanded expedited removal policy.

Table 9 Title 42 Public Health Emergency Order

Start Date: Created in 1944, but invoked for the first time in March 2020 by Trump

What It Is: Title 42 is part of a 1944 public health act that allows health officials, with the approval of the president, to restrict immigration from certain countries for as long as deemed necessary to prevent a disease from spreading to the United States. Under Trump, Title 42 amounted to a ban on asylum-seeking by the migrants subject to it. To invoke Title 42, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) must first determine whether immigration poses a foreign communicable disease threat to the United States. If so, Title 42 allows CBP to quickly deport migrants apprehended trying to illegally cross the US southern border, mostly to Mexico but sometimes to the migrants' countries of origin. Rather than face criminal charges or undergo immigration proceedings (as they did prior to Title 42), apprehended migrants are simply deported under Title 42. By eliminating formal consequences for illegally crossing the border, Title 42 effectively incentivized migrants to cross repeatedly until they succeeded entering the United States without getting caught.

Current Status: Ended after Biden lifted the COVID-19 public health emergency in May 2023

Trump

March 21, 2020: Trump invoked Title 42, allowing CBP to rapidly "expel" migrants at the southern border without giving them permission to seek asylum. CBP carried out over 390,000 Title 42 expulsions through December 2020.

Biden

April 1, 2022: Biden's CDC announced it would terminate Title 42 on May 23, 2022.

May 20, 2022: A US district court blocked Biden from ending Title 42, ruling that the administration violated administrative law.

October 12, 2022: Biden's DHS announced it would use Title 42 to immediately deport Venezuelan migrants who illegally entered the United States to Mexico, despite attempts to end Title 42 in May.

February 16, 2023: The Supreme Court canceled arguments over Title 42.

May 11, 2023: The federal government ended the COVID-19 national and public health order, which meant Title 42 could no longer be invoked.

Asylum Policies

Table 10 Refugee ban and additional screening measures

Start Date: January 2017, by Trump

What It Is: Suspends the travel of all refugees to the United States for a set period and subjects refugee applicants to stricter screening prior to resettlement.

Current Status: Terminated by Biden in January 2021

Trump

January 27, 2017: Trump signed EO 13769, which (in addition to the travel ban) suspended the admittance of all refugees for 120 days, the admittance of all Syrian refugees indefinitely, and set the 2017 US refugee admissions ceiling at 50,000 (less than half of the 2016 ceiling of 117,000).

March 6, 2017: Trump signed EO 13780, which (in addition to the travel ban) again suspended the admittance of all refugees for 120 days. Due to a series of court injunctions, EO 13780 was blocked until June 26, 2017, when the Supreme Court allowed the ban to partially take effect. This second refugee ban expired on October 24, 2017.

October 24, 2017: Trump signed EO 13815, which ordered the government to deprioritize the resettlement of refugees from 11 high national security risk countries (reportedly Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Mali, North Korea, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen). The order effectively banned the admittance of refugees from these 11 countries until December 2017, when it was enjoined by a US district court.

January 29, 2018: Trump's DHS announced additional screening measures for refugees from the 11 high national security risk countries, including longer interviews for refugee applicants and separate interviews for children.

Biden

January 20, 2021: Biden signed Proclamation on Ending Discriminatory Bans on Entry to the United States, which revoked all additional refugee screening measures implemented under Trump.

Table 11 Historically low refugee admissions ceilings

Start Date: March 1980, Refugee Act of 1980 signed by President Jimmy Carter

What It Is: The Refugee Act of 1980, an amendment to the Immigration and Nationality Act, authorizes the president to set annual limits on refugee admissions. Under Trump, annual admissions of refugees hit record low numbers.

Current Status: Reversed by Biden in May 2021

Trump

March 6, 2017: Trump issued EO 13780, which capped refugee admissions at 50,000 for the remainder of fiscal year 2017.

September 29, 2017: Trump lowered the refugee admission ceiling to 45,000 for fiscal year 2018.

September 17, 2018: Trump lowered the refugee admission ceiling to 30,000 for fiscal year 2019.

November 1, 2019: Trump lowered the refugee admission ceiling to 18,000 for fiscal year 2020.

November 6, 2020: Trump lowered the refugee admission ceiling to 15,000 for fiscal year 2021.

Biden

May 3, 2021: Biden raised the refugee admissions ceiling to 62,500 for the remainder of fiscal year 2021.

October 8, 2021: Biden raised the refugee admissions ceiling to 125,000 for fiscal year 2022.

September 27, 2022: Biden maintained the refugee admissions ceiling at 125,000 for fiscal year 2023.

September 29, 2023: Biden maintained the refugee admissions ceiling at 125,000 for fiscal year 2024.

Table 12 "Extreme vetting"

Start Date: March 2017, by Trump

What It Is: A series of changes to background and security checks on refugee applicants that together reduce the number of refugees admitted to the United States. These changes include more intensive screening and vetting procedures for the United States Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) and visa-issuance processes; more expansive data collection from refugees; and the creation of a National Vetting Center.

Current Status: Terminated by Biden in January 2021, except for the National Vetting Center

Trump

March 6, 2017: Trump issued EO 13780, which directed the Secretary of State, the Attorney General, the Secretary for Homeland Security, and the Director for National Intelligence to adopt more "extensive additional screening associated with all visa-issuance processes."

October 23, 2017: Trump's State Department, DHS, and Director of National Intelligence issued a memo, which mandated more expansive data collection from refugees. The memo expanded contact information collection requirements (from the past 10 years instead of five, and from all close relatives instead of just those living within the United States); address information collection requirements; and the number of people who required additional screening (including reviews of social media accounts).

February 6, 2018: Trump issued a Presidential Memorandum, which intensified vetting procedures outlined in EO 13780 and established a National Vetting Center to enforce these new procedures.

Biden

January 20, 2021: Biden issued a Presidential Proclamation, which revoked Trump's EO 13780. The proclamation did not, however, terminate Trump's National Vetting Center. The National Vetting Center remains part of the US Citizenship and Immigration Services' (USCIS) refugee processing and security screening today.

Table 13 Central American Minors (CAM) Refugee and Parole Program

Start Date: December 2014, by Obama; ceased by Trump by January 2018

What It Is: Provides qualified unaccompanied minors from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras who have parents in the United States with "an opportunity to seek refugee status and possible resettlement in the United States." Under CAM, qualified unaccompanied minors are first screened for refugee status and are then either accepted into the United States as a refugee or considered for parole—a designation that temporarily allows "certain noncitizens to physically enter or remain in the United States if they are applying for admission but do not have a legal basis for being admitted," as well as apply for work authorization.

Current Status: Restarted by Biden in March 2021

Trump

August 16, 2017: Trump's USCIS terminated the parole portion of CAM.

November 9, 2017: Trump's State Department stopped accepting new applications for the refugee portion of CAM.

January 31, 2018: Trump's USCIS ended CAM applicant interviews altogether. 

Biden

March 10, 2021: Biden's State Department announced it would reopen CAM in two phases, effective immediately. Phase 1 prioritized reopening and processing applications that were submitted and closed in 2018 (when Trump terminated CAM).

June 15, 2021: Biden's State Department and DHS jointly announced Phase 2 of the CAM reopening, which fully restarted the program.

April 11, 2023: Biden's State Department and DHS jointly announced several "enhancements" to the CAM program, including expanded eligibility.

Table 14 Changes to US asylum eligibility: No protections for gender and gang violence

Start Date: June 2018, by Trump

What It Is: Migrants at the US southern border are considered eligible for asylum if they can establish a "credible fear" of persecution due to one of many factors, including their "membership in a particular social group." This included credible fears of domestic abuse or gang violence, but under Trump, Attorney General Jeff Sessions overturned this precedent.

Current Status: Reversed by Biden in June 2021

Trump

June 11, 2018: Trump's DOJ reversed a 2016 immigration appeals court decision that granted asylum to a Salvadoran domestic abuse victim. In effect, this reversal rendered most victims of gender-based or gang violence ineligible for US asylum.

Biden

June 16, 2021: Biden's Attorney General Merrick B. Garland repealed the Trump administration's June 2018 decision, returning to the earlier precedent that victims of domestic abuse and gang violence can be considered for US asylum.

Table 15 Changes to US asylum eligibility: Transit-country asylum ban

Start Date: July 2019, by Trump

What It Is: Prohibits migrants at the US southern border who have not first applied for and been denied asylum in a "transit country" (i.e., a country other than their native country they transmitted through on their way to the United States) from being eligible for US asylum. Both Mexicans and victims of severe human trafficking are excluded. Migrants found ineligible for asylum because of this ban can still apply for protection in the United States under the United Nations Convention Against Torture and withholding of removal, though both of these protections are harder to win than asylum.

Current Status: Replaced by a similar policy by Biden in May 2023, which is being challenged in federal courts but is still temporarily in effect

Trump

July 16, 2019: Trump's DOJ and DHS together issued an interim final rule on the transit-country asylum ban, effective immediately. The ban was swiftly blocked nationwide by a US district court.

September 11, 2019: The Supreme Court allowed the ban to go into effect as the court case against it proceeded.

June 30, 2020: The ban was once again blocked, this time by a different US district court.

January 19, 2021: Trump's DOJ and DHS together issued a final rule on the transit-country asylum ban, effective immediately. The final rule was largely unchanged from the interim final rule and overrode all past injunctions against it.

Biden

February 16, 2021: A US district court blocked the January 2021 version of the ban.

May 11, 2023: Biden's DOJ and DHS issued a final rule to deal with a surge in post-COVID migration at the southern border, effective immediately. The rule brought back the Trump administration's bar on asylum for migrants who had transited through other countries without applying for asylum there, but was moderated by large exceptions not present in the Trump rule. Unaccompanied children, migrants entering the United States at legal points of entry, and victims of severe human trafficking were excluded from Biden's transit-country asylum ban.

July 25, 2023: A US district court blocked Biden's ban.

August 3, 2023: A federal appeals court put a temporary stay on the district court's ruling, allowing the ban to proceed.

March 7, 2024: The states of Alabama, Georgia, Kansas, Louisiana, and West Virginia filed a motion to intervene in the ongoing appeals court case, claiming they "will be harmed" if the ban is lifted.

Table 16 Asylum Cooperative Agreements (ACAs, or "Safe Third Country" Agreements)

Start Date: July 2019, by Trump

What It Is: Allows the United States to deport asylum seekers to an agreed ACA country (i.e., El Salvador, Guatemala, or Honduras) for protections there instead of in the United States. Excluded from these agreements are unaccompanied children and asylum seekers who can credibly demonstrate they will "more likely than not" face persecution or torture in ACA countries. Asylum seekers who are nationals of a specific ACA country may also not be deported to their home country under these agreements.

Current Status: Terminated by Biden in May and August 2021

Trump

July 26, 2019 - September 25, 2019: Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras each signed an ACA with the United States.

November 15, 2019: The US-Guatemala ACA was implemented—the only ACA implemented during the Trump administration.

November 2019 – March 2020: Approximately 945 Salvadoran and Honduran asylum seekers were sent to Guatemala and only 34 chose to apply for asylum there. None of these asylum applications were decided through January 2021 (one month before the Biden administration suspended the Guatemala ACA) and no asylum seekers were deported to either Honduras or El Salvador under an ACA.

March 17, 2020: Guatemala suspended its ACA with the United States due to COVID-19 transmission concerns.

Biden

February 6, 2021: The Biden administration suspended and initiated the process to terminate the ACAs with El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.

May 6, 2021: The Guatemala ACA was terminated.

August 6, 2021: Both the Honduras and El Salvador ACAs were terminated.

Table 17 Prompt Asylum Case Review (PACR) and Humanitarian Asylum Review Process (HARP)

Start Date: October 2019, by Trump

What It Is: Two streamlined programs that quickly screen and deport migrants deemed ineligible for asylum or other forms of protection. PACR applies to asylum seekers from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras while HARP applies to Mexican asylum seekers. Under these programs, asylum seekers are detained in CBP custody (rather than ICE custody) prior to their credible fear screening interview, which in effect limits their access to counsel for the interviews. Asylum seekers found ineligible for asylum or protection can appeal their case to an immigration judge via phone.

Current Status: Terminated by Biden in February 2021

Trump

October 7, 2019: PACR began as a pilot program in El Paso, Texas. 3,180 asylum seekers were processed under PACR by mid-March 2020.

October 28, 2019: HARP began as a pilot program in El Paso, Texas. 2,110 Mexican asylum seekers were processed under HARP by mid-March 2020.

March 20, 2020: PACR and HARP were suspended after Trump's CDC authorized Title 42 deportations. 

Biden

February 2, 2021: Biden issued EO 14010, which issued a directive to DHS to end PACR and HARP.

Legal Immigration Policies

Table 18 Travel bans (or "Muslim bans")

Start Date: January 2017, by Trump

What It Is: Originally prohibited foreign nationals from seven predominantly Muslim countries (Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Libya, and Somalia) from traveling to the United States. The list of countries later changed, with varying degrees of travel restrictions.  

Current Status: Terminated by Biden in January 2021

Trump

January 27, 2017: Trump signed EO 13769, the first iteration of the travel ban. EO 13769 banned foreign nationals of seven countries—Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Libya, and Somalia—from traveling to the United States for 90 days.

March 6, 2017: Trump signed EO 13780, the second iteration of the travel ban, which revoked and replaced EO 13769. EO 13780 banned foreign nationals of six countries—Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen—from traveling to the United States for 90 days. Due to a series of court injunctions, EO 13780 was blocked until June 26, 2017, when the Supreme Court allowed the ban to partially take effect.

September 24, 2017: Trump issued Presidential Proclamation 9645, the third iteration of the travel ban. Proclamation 9645 banned foreign nationals of eight countries—Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela, and Yemen—from traveling to the United States indefinitely.

April 10, 2018: Trump issued Presidential Proclamation 9723, which terminated entry restrictions and limitations for foreign nationals of Chad.

June 26, 2018: The Supreme Court upheld Presidential Proclamation 9645, the third iteration of the travel ban.

January 31, 2020: Trump issued Presidential Proclamation 9983, the fourth iteration of the travel ban. Proclamation 9983 added six countries to the travel ban: Myanmar, Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Nigeria, Sudan, and Tanzania. However, nationals of the newly added six countries were still permitted to travel to the United States on nonimmigrant visas (e.g., tourist visas, temporary worker visas).

Biden

January 20, 2021: Biden signed "Proclamation on Ending Discriminatory Bans on Entry to the United States," which revoked all of Trump's travel ban EOs and Presidential Proclamations.

Table 19 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)

Start Date: June 2012, by Obama

What It Is: Protects from deportation and provides work authorization, access to drivers' licenses, and (in some cases) access to financial aid for education to unauthorized immigrants who came to the United States as children. DACA confers "deferred action" status to immigrants for 2 years, subject to renewal. President Obama expanded DACA in 2014 through Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA), which provides protection from deportation and work authorization to undocumented parents of American citizens or lawful permanent residents.

Current Status: Blocked by a US district court in September 2023

Trump

June 15, 2017: Trump's DHS terminated DAPA.

September 5, 2017: The Trump administration announced a staggered end to DACA. Trump's USCIS immediately stopped accepting all new DACA applications (except for DACA renewal applications for benefits that expired on or before March 5, 2018).

September 6, 2017: Trump's CBP instructed agents to temporarily detain individuals who claimed to have DACA status in order to confirm they were telling the truth (and to deport individuals whose DACA status could not be confirmed).

October 5, 2017: Trump's USCIS stopped accepting all DACA renewal applications.

January 9, 2018: Three separate US district courts blocked the Trump administration from terminating DACA. One federal appeals court upheld the injunction against the termination of DACA while another upheld the termination.

November 8, 2018: A federal appeals court upheld one of the three injunctions against terminating DACA.

May 17, 2019: A different federal appeals court ruled against one of the three injunctions against terminating DACA, finding the injunction illegal.

June 18, 2020: The Supreme Court ruled against the Trump administration's decision to terminate DACA.

July 17, 2020: A US district court ordered USCIS to once again process new DACA applications.

July 28, 2020: Trump's DHS issued a memo, which limited DACA benefits. The memo ordered all new DACA applications and advance parole applications be denied, as well as shortened the window of DACA protection from two years to one.

November 11, 2020: A US district judge ruled that the July 28, 2020 memo was invalid.

December 4, 2020: A US district judge ordered Trump's DHS to restore DACA to its status prior to September 5, 2017.

Biden

January 20, 2021: Biden issued a Presidential Memorandum, which directed the DHS Secretary and the Attorney General to take "all actions he deems appropriate, consistent with applicable law, to preserve and fortify DACA."

February 18, 2021: The Biden administration, Senator Bob Menendez, and Representative Linda Sanchez introduced the US Citizenship Act of 2021, which created a "an earned path to citizenship" for DACA recipients. Both the House and Senate versions of the bill died in committee. 

July 16, 2021: A US district court ordered the Biden administration to stop accepting new DACA applications. The court ruled that DACA violated the Administrative Procedure Act when it was created.

September 10, 2021: The Biden administration appealed the July 16, 2021 US district court ruling.

August 4, 2022: Biden's DHS issued a 453-page rule to codify DACA into federal regulation, effective October 31, 2022.

October 5, 2022: A federal appeals court ruled against DACA, which blocked all new DACA applications but allowed existing DACA recipients to keep their DACA status. The case was returned to a US district court for reconsideration in light of the August 2022 DHS regulation that formalized DACA.

September 13, 2023: The US district court ruled against the August 2022 DHS regulation that formalized DACA and issued a stay to preserve the status quo for existing DACA recipients.

June 17, 2024: Biden's DHS and Department of State jointly announced improvements to the distribution of "certain employment-based nonimmigration visas for eligible individuals," including DACA recipients, "who have graduated from an accredited US institution of higher education."

Table 20 Expanded public-charge vetting

Start Date: January 2018, by Trump

What It Is: A "public charge" is defined as someone who is "likely to become primarily dependent on the government for subsistence." According to US immigration law, a noncitizen's application for a temporary visa, green card, or change in immigration status can be denied if that noncitizen is "likely at any time to become a public charge." Prior to Trump, public charge inadmissibility was determined by past use of cash assistance for income maintenance (such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) or long-term institutionalization at government expense. Under Trump, the "public charge" definition was expanded to include past use of noncash benefits (such as Medicaid, nutrition assistance, and housing assistance).

Current Status: Reversed by Biden in March 2021

Trump

January 3, 2018: Trump's State Department instructed consular officers to consider the "age, health, family status, assets, resources, financial status, education, and skills" of green card or temporary visa applicants when determining their likelihood of becoming public charges.

August 14, 2019: Trump's USCIS issued a regulation that barred any green card applicant likely to become a public charge from becoming a legal permanent resident, weighing factors including "the applicant's income, level of education, health, family size, and past benefits use." Reviews for extensions or changes of status could consider past use of public benefits. Initially effective on October 15, 2019, this regulation was implemented on February 24, 2020, after it was stayed by courts of appeals and the Supreme Court.

October 11, 2019: Trump's State Department issued an interim final rule, which implemented public charge determination standards consistent with USCIS for visa applicants. Trump's State Department received emergency approval to use its new public charge questionnaire on February 2020 for six months, through August 31, 2020.

February 24, 2020: This was the implementation date for both the August 2019 public charge rule and the State Department's October 2019 public charge questionnaire.

July 29, 2020: A US district court halted nationwide enforcement of the August 2019 public charge rule.

September 11, 2020: A federal appeals court reversed the nationwide block on the August 2019 public charge rule and allowed USCIS to resume applying it.

November 2, 2020: A different US district court ruled that the August 2019 public charge rule was invalid and again prohibited its implementation nationwide.

November 19, 2020: A different federal appeals court reversed the November 2, 2020 ruling and again allowed USCIS to resume applying the public charge rule.

Biden

March 9, 2021: Biden's DHS vacated Trump's August 2019 public charge rule and restored the guidance on public charge inadmissibility for green card applicants that was in place prior to August 14, 2019.

March 15, 2021: Biden's USCIS issued a final rule, which discontinued the forms used to implement the August 2019 public charge rule and removed the 2019 public charge rule from the Federal Register.

October 6, 2023: Biden's State Department restored the guidance on public charge inadmissibility for visa applicants that was in place prior to October 11, 2019.

 

Table 21 Changes to legal immigration

Start Date: April 2020, by Trump

What It Is: In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Trump cut legal immigration to the United States by roughly 50 percent via executive action. Specifically, Trump suspended the issuance of employment-based permanent immigrant visas (i.e., EB-1, EB-2, EB-3, and EB-4 visas), employment-based temporary nonimmigrant visas (i.e., H-1B, H-2B, L, and J visas), family-based permanent immigrant visas (i.e., IR-5, F1, F2, F3, and F4 visas), family-based temporary nonimmigrant visas (i.e., H-4, J-2, and L-2 visas), diversity visas, and visas for victims of certain crimes. By contrast, Biden expanded legal immigration to the United States via executive action.

Current Status: Restrictions terminated by Biden in February 2021; legal pathways expanded by Biden starting in February 2021

Trump

April 22, 2020: Trump issued Proclamation 10014, which suspended most immigration to and travel from outside of the United States for 60 days.

June 22, 2020: Trump issued Proclamation 10052, which expanded and extended Proclamation 10014 until December 31, 2020. Trump justified the new proclamation on the grounds that it would aid the economic recovery in wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

December 31, 2020: Trump issued Proclamation 10131, which extended Proclamation 10052 until March 31, 2021.

Biden

February 2, 2021: Biden issued EO 14010, which ordered the whole administration to "enhance lawful pathways for migration" from Latin America.

February 24, 2021: Biden revoked Proclamations 10014, 10052, and 10131.

October 12, 2022: Biden's DHS and Department of Labor allocated a record 20,000 H-2B temporary nonagricultural worker visas for citizens of El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Haiti.

January 5, 2023: Biden announced "Processes for Cubans, Haitians, Nicaraguans, and Venezuelans (CHNV)," a humanitarian parole program for up to 30,000 CHNV nationals. The program was coupled with an agreement with the Mexican government, wherein Mexico agreed to allow the United States to deport up to 30,000 CHNV migrants to Mexico each month.

June 17, 2024: Biden's DHS announced a new lawful permanent residence application process for certain noncitizen spouses of US citizens. The approximately 500,000 noncitizen spouses estimated to be eligible for the new process would no longer be required to leave the United States to legally immigrate.

Other Policies

Table 22 Temporary Protected Status (TPS)

Start Date: November 1990, by George H. W. Bush; terminated for specific countries by Trump starting in September 2018

What It Is: Allows migrants from select countries to legally reside within the United States for up to 18 months, subject to renewal. Migrants granted TPS are also eligible for employment and travel authorization. TPS does not lead to lawful permanent resident status or give any other immigration status. Trump as president sought to end TPS designations for foreign nationals of El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua, Sudan, Honduras, and Nepal.

Current Status: Expanded by Biden starting in 2021

Trump

September 18, 2017: Trump terminated TPS for foreign nationals of Sudan, effective November 2, 2018.

November 6, 2017: Trump terminated TPS for foreign nationals of Nicaragua, effective January 5, 2019. This decision was later enjoined.

November 20, 2017: Trump terminated TPS for foreign nationals of Haiti, effective July 22, 2019. This decision was later enjoined.

January 8, 2018: Trump terminated TPS for foreign nationals of El Salvador, effective September 9, 2019. This decision was later enjoined.

April 26, 2018: Trump terminated TPS for foreign nationals of Nepal, effective June 24, 2019. This decision was later enjoined.

May 4, 2018: Trump terminated TPS for foreign nationals of Honduras, effective January 5, 2020. This decision was later enjoined.

October 3, 2018: A US district court blocked Trump's DHS from terminating TPS for foreign nationals of El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Sudan.

March 12, 2019: The Trump administration agreed to pause plans to terminate TPS for foreign nationals of Honduras and Nepal. Trump linked those two cases to the October 2018 TPS case for foreign nationals of El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Sudan.

April 11, 2019: A US district court issued a second injunction against the termination of TPS for foreign nationals of Haiti.

December 9, 2020: Trump extended TPS for foreign nationals of El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua, Sudan, Honduras, and Nepal.

Biden

September 10, 2021: Biden extended TPS for foreign nationals of El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua, Sudan, Honduras, and Nepal through December 31, 2022.

September 27, 2022: Biden extended TPS for foreign nationals of Burma for 18 months, from November 26, 2022 through May 25, 2024.

November 16, 2022: Biden again extended TPS for foreign nationals of El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua, Sudan, Honduras, and Nepal through June 30, 2024.

December 12, 2022: Biden extended TPS for foreign nationals of Ethiopia for 18 months, from December 12, 2022 through June 12, 2024.

January 3, 2023: Biden extended TPS for foreign nationals of Yemen for 18 months, from March 4, 2023 through September 3, 2024.

March 13, 2023: Biden extended TPS for foreign nationals of Somalia for 18 months, from March 18, 2023 through September 17, 2024.

August 21, 2023: Biden extended TPS for foreign nationals of Ukraine for 18 months, from October 20, 2023 through April 19, 2025.

September 6, 2023: Biden extended TPS for foreign nationals of South Sudan for 18 months, from November 4, 2023 through May 3, 2025.

September 25, 2023: Biden extended TPS for foreign nationals of Afghanistan for 18 months, from November 21, 2023 through May 20, 2025.

October 3, 2023: Biden extended TPS for foreign nationals of Venezuela for 18 months, from March 11, 2024 through September 10, 2025.

October 10, 2023: Biden extended TPS for foreign nationals of Cameroon for 18 months, from December 8, 2023 through June 7, 2025.

January 29, 2024: Biden redesignated foreign nationals of Syria for TPS, starting April 1, 2024 for 18 months.

Data Disclosure

This publication does not include a replication package.

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