Factbox: Trump and Biden take sharply different paths on immigration

(Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump’s push to crack down on illegal immigration was at the heart of the Republican’s winning 2016 campaign and has remained at the forefront of his White House agenda.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump gestures as he answers a question during the daily coronavirus task force briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S., April 21, 2020. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo

Former Vice President Joe Biden, the likely Democratic nominee, promises to rescind most of those policies if he wins the Nov. 3 election.

Here is a look at some of their immigration stances.


In his latest move, Trump plans to sign an executive order temporarily suspending the process to grant foreigners “green cards” for permanent residence, in order to protect American jobs during the coronavirus pandemic.

Biden said the decision, announced by Trump in a late-night tweet, was designed to draw attention away from Trump’s failed reaction to the pandemic.

“Donald Trump is tweeting incendiary rhetoric about immigrants in the hopes that he can distract everyone from the core truth: He’s moved too slowly to contain this virus, and we are all paying the price for it,” Biden said.


Trump’s promises to build a wall along the U.S. southern border with Mexico and make Mexico pay for it were the centerpiece of his hard-line immigration rhetoric during the 2016 campaign, energizing his supporters and enraging Democrats.

But there has been limited progress on construction and Mexico has refused to pay for it, leaving the U.S. government to foot the bill, partially from Pentagon funds. Federal court records show the Trump administration has ramped up efforts to seize land for the wall.

Biden’s immigration plan would end the diversion of funding from the military to build the wall and focus instead on border enforcement like investments in improving the screening infrastructure at ports of entry.


Trump’s “zero-tolerance” policy to prosecute illegal border crossings led in 2018 to several thousand children being forcibly separated from parents and legal guardians detained on the Mexico border.

The policy, described by the administration as a deterrent, sparked outrage, and the backlash led Trump to sign an executive order to end the practice. But the administration continued to separate hundreds of kids traveling with other adult relatives. Since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, the administration has moved to “expel” migrants in a rapid process without legal review, including minors.

Biden would end the prosecution of parents for minor immigration violations, which he calls an “intimidation tactic,” and make it a priority to reunite any children still separated from their families.


After taking office in 2017, Trump moved to end former President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which protects from deportation immigrants popularly known as “Dreamers” who were brought illegally to the United States as children.

The administration has appealed lower court rulings that blocked Trump’s plan to end the program that shields about 660,000 immigrants - mostly Hispanic young adults - and provides them work permits but not a path to citizenship. A ruling is pending in the U.S. Supreme Court.

Biden says he will rescind the “cruel” decision to terminate the DACA program and strengthen protections for “Dreamers.” He would make them eligible for federal student aid for college.


Trump signed an order banning entry to immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries, a move Biden and other critics said discriminated against Muslims. A federal court blocked the initial ban, but in 2018 the Supreme Court upheld an amended version that has since been expanded to other countries.

Biden has promised to rescind the bans, calling them an abuse of power designed to discriminate against black and brown immigrants.

Reporting by John Whitesides; editing by Colleen Jenkins and Jonathan Oatis