As Biden confronts Trump’s immigration legacy, the long shadow of the Obama era creeps in.
THE PACE AND AGGRESSION were staggering. By the end of his first week in office, Donald Trump had already signed orders banning travelers from multiple Muslim-majority countries and tossed out rules establishing who the nation’s sprawling immigration enforcement apparatus should prioritize for arrest. Hundreds more executive actions would follow in the years to come.
As part of a nativist effort to remake the U.S. relationship to immigration through an “unshackling” of the Department of Homeland Security, armed federal agents took thousands of immigrant children from their parents to terrify others from making the journey north. Families were turned out into some of the border’s most dangerous cities by the tens of thousands. Mothers and fathers who dutifully checked-in at Immigration and Customs Enforcement offices for years walked into those same spaces only to find themselves handcuffed and deported.
And those were only the most infamous of the administration’s initiatives. Asylum and refugee admissions came under withering attack through waves of critical but under-the-radar regulations and policy changes.
Now, it seems, that era is coming to an end, raising a critical question: How much of what Trump built will remain?