Immigration After the 2020 Presidential Election
Since Election Day on November 3rd, the entire country has been anxiously waiting for the result of the vote count. After all, the fate of this country for the next four years will be determined by this election.
Immigration is among one of the many topics that the candidates hold drastically different approaches. Those who are studying, working, or immigrating to the United States, despite some do not have the right to vote, are just as concerned as citizens about the outcome of the election, for that their fates for the next four years will also be determined by the winner, and the immigration policies he endorses.
Donald Trump has implemented numerous executive orders, although many blocked, targeting immigrants, international students, and foreign workers. Many are hoping this would be brought to an end if Biden were to be elected. Will Biden bring the changes that these people are hoping to see? If so, in what ways? What will happen if Trump, even very unlikely according to the current vote counts, makes a miraculous turnaround and wins the election?
Ever since the beginning of the Coronavirus outbreak, Trump has been busy proposing various rules to hinder H-1B holders and applicants — banning entrance, raising the prevailing wage, proposing to abolish the lottery system, you name it, he will make an order for it. Trump tightened H-1B policies to an unprecedented level. It is also worth mentioning that ever since Trump’s inauguration, the approval rate for H-1B visas has been plummeting.
Trump states that H-1B is a visa designed to recruit talented foreign employees who cannot be sought within the United States. As the H-1B has been a popular program for post-graduation international students, Trump insists that the H-1B program has been abused, and is to be restored to its “original purpose”.
If the stars align for Trump and he wins the race, he will only implement even harsher rules on the H-1B program. For example, his proposal last month on ending the H-1B lottery system will very likely be moved into the process.
Biden, on the other hand, despite having not made explicit remarks on his stance on this issue, has mentioned that he will increase the number of employment-based visas approved each year while the American economy allows. He also states that many of Trump’s immigration executive orders will be abrogated.
To ensure the employment opportunities of citizens are protected, Biden has promised to raise $4 billion from overseas sponsors and regional partners to stimulate the economic growth of central America.
It is not guaranteed if Biden winning will be a favourable situation for H-1B holders and seekers. Biden may not be against the latest rise in the prevailing wages and the proposed end to the lottery system of the H-1B by Trump, as he has not made remarks on such change and proposal.
Biden might carry on with Obama’s International Entrepreneur Rule, which encouraged foreign nationals to set up businesses in the U.S.
International students also had a difficult year. During the beginning of the outbreak, Trump attempted to send home international students taking only online courses. Luckily, the rule was blocked by lawsuits.
According to statistics from the Department of State, the number of international students is at a consistent decrease since Trump has taken office: 471,728 people in the year 2016; 393,578 in 2017; 362,929 in 2018; and 364,204 in 2019.
The incentives to study abroad in the U.S. have been minimized after the tightening of the H-1B program. Additionally, the inflammatory racial hate speech Trump often spreads creates a hostile environment for international students, where they feel more unwelcome than ever.
Biden, on the other hand, takes a much friendlier approach to international students. To prevent the loss of workers with extraordinary talents, Biden plans to grant instant visas to STEM students with doctorate degrees and exempting them from caps.
Trump makes it as hard as possible for those seeking to become a citizen legally, and impossible for those who do so illegally. In 2019, he implemented the first major change in the public charge rule since 1999 by expanding the category of benefits that are considered to be public charges. Such expansion made healthcare, free college tuitions, and other public welfare unaccessible to green card seekers. This inevitably resulted in seriously jeopardized health and safety of many during the pandemic.
Trump’s attack on illegal immigrants has been as harsh and ruthless as he had promised, if not more. He has hired as many as 10,000 new ICE officers and 5,000 border patrol officers to evict and stop illegal immigrants.
He has sent back over 66,000 asylum seekers from Mexico. He also lowered the 110,000 annual cap for asylum seekers set by Obama to only 15,000.
Trump also tried to rescinded DACA, which allowed illegal immigrants who entered the U.S. under the age of 16 to receive 2-year renewable deferred actions from deportation and permissions to work. His attack on illegal immigrants also heartbreakingly separate thousands of family at the border. Some children may never reunite with their parents again.
Taking a Closer Look at the New Rules:
Many of those who are most concerned with immigration policies do not have the voting right to participate in the decision of such matters. In the meantime, in the Asian American community, many citizens of which used to be in the exact same shoes showed a surprising split in the support for candidates in this election.
A considerable number of Asian Biden supporters are traditional non-voters who show no interest in politics and did not participate in past elections. However, the exacerbating of xenophobia during the pandemic has threatened not only the Chinese American community but also the Asian community overall. Asian Americans have felt the urge to vote for a candidate under whose governance, such interracial hatred will be at least alleviated. They may not be fully supportive of Biden and his policies, they recognize putting Trump’s term to an end as a priority. As traditional non-voters, they cast their ballots for Biden in this election.
Aside from the worsening of xenophobia resulting from COVID, Trump’s unideal performance of fighting the pandemic has also led many to feel the need to vote against him.
Since inaugurated, Trump’s racist remarks have made the interracial conflicts more intense than ever. Asian Americans who highly value equality among races, genders, sexual orientations, etc. are also supporting Biden to terminate the oppression of minorities.
One may be very surprised to hear that the racist president has supporters among one of the communities it attacked the most during the pandemic. In the meantime, many Asian Americans voted for Trump out of fear for proposition 16. The proposition attempts to repeal a constitutional provision, which bans Californian institutions to discriminate against people based on race, ethnicity, nationality, or gender.
For example, currently, Californian universities are not allowed to decide on an application based on the race of the applicant, but proposition 16 would make it legal to do so. Advocates for this proposition believe in equally distributing educational resources and job opportunities among people based on race, gender, and other factors as such. This harms many Asian Americans, as they have high rates of being admitted to universities for their academic rigour.
Since Joe Biden is in support of this provision, many who do not want to diminish their children’s opportunities to enrol in universities have voted against him.
Trump’s policies, such as lower taxes, endorse Asian Americans financially, as many of them are business owners. As a result, such voters prefer Trump over Biden.
Who will be the next president of the United States of America? Will immigrants and foreign nationals continue to suffer from harsh policies? Although we are extremely close to the answer to those questions, we are not quite there yet. As we are in the very last stage of this election, the results could be revealed any second. Which of these two candidates would serve you best? Who do you support?