Immigration activists are frustrated with the Biden administration for being too passive in undoing the Trump administration's expansive policies, Politico reported Tuesday.
President Joe Biden's officials have defended policies of former President Donald Trump in court despite having pledged to quickly reverse Trump's hardline immigration agenda.
Under Biden, the U.S. has supported the expiration of certain visas, pushed for tougher requirements for investors seeking green cards, and backed the denial of permanent residency for thousands of immigrants living legally in the U.S., Politico said.
Immigration attorneys and former administration officials told Politico the government might not agree with a specific policy, but law requirements and the time needed to review cases forced the Justice Department to defend the Trump-era approach.
Politico reported that Biden administration officials even have argued that policies created under Trump's acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf were legal because opposing the policies could have impacted all sorts of changes at the department.
Critics, however, point to the fact a federal judge said Wolf did not lawfully serve in the position because he was never confirmed by the Senate.
The Biden administration also recently went to court to defend a Trump-era policy that prioritizes the highest wage earners for a high-skilled worker visa program, and continues to defend Title 42, a COVID-related public health order used to expel migrants without allowing them to seek asylum.
"It was one thing for the Biden team to say they needed time when they first took office, but it’s now been seven months and that is no longer a valid excuse," said Lee Gelernt, lead attorney in the American Civil Liberties Union's case challenging the legality of using Title 42 to expel families.
Three sources told Politico that several immigrant rights and pro-reform groups — including the Immigration Hub, the American Immigration Lawyers Association, and the National Immigration Law Center — recently met with Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco and Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta to voice concerns.
"The Department of Justice really was a center of gravity for some of the most hideous anti- immigrant policies that came out of the Trump administration and really was in some ways ground zero for the anti-immigrant agenda of Donald Trump," Sergio Gonzales, who worked on the Biden transition and serves as executive director of the Immigration Hub, told Politico.
"And this is why it's so critical that DOJ moves swiftly and aggressively to undo that agenda."
With immigration being a priority for Trump, the former president reshaped virtually every aspect of the U.S. system through executive action, policy guidance, and regulatory change. Among the changes were denying visas to citizens of several majority-Muslim nations, and building 400 miles of wall along the southern border.
Politico said some changes Biden wants to make to his predecessor's policies have been held up by regulatory processes, or the need for congressional action, which is not assured.
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