Members of U.S. President-elect Joe Biden‘s White House transition effort cautioned Tuesday that he would not undo all of President Trump‘s changes to the U.S. immigration system overnight, and explained that incoming administration officials would “need time” to pursue such efforts.
On a press call, the transition officials vowed that Biden would suspend deportations while making changes to the immigration system upon taking office, but said that those changes would take time to implement, according to The Washington Post.
Their warnings echoed those from Susan Rice, the president-elect’s domestic policy chief, who spoke to Spanish-language news service Agencia EFE on Monday.
“We will be able to take some steps to change policies right away. Others will take time to put in place, and the situation at the border will not transform overnight due in large part to the damage done over the last four years. But we are committed to addressing it in full,” Rice said in that interview.
Rice added that prospective asylum-seekers should not believe those who say U.S. border restrictions will be relaxed and asylum claims will be processed on the first day of Biden’s presidency.
“Processing power at the border is not like a light that can be turned on and off. Migrants and asylum-seekers should not at all believe the people in the region who are selling the idea that the border will suddenly be wide open to process everyone on the first day. It will not be so. We are inheriting deeply damaged, non-functioning infrastructure and processing capacity has to be restored and expanded in large part, especially in light of the current pandemic,” said Rice.
The Trump administration pursued a path of strict immigration control measures over the past four years, much of it heavily criticized by Democrats, including a controversial, now-ended policy in which immigrant children were separated from their parents during detention while their parents awaited prosecution for illegal border crossings.
Biden himself pledged during a recent interview with NBC News to send an immigration reform bill containing a path to citizenship for undocumented Americans to Congress within 100 days of taking office. He has also pledged to act through executive powers.
“I made a commitment, in the first 100 days, I will send an immigration bill to the United States Senate with a pathway to citizenship for over 11 million undocumented people in America,” he said.