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One of the biggest failures of the Trump presidency was the cruel treatment of both documented and undocumented immigrants, as well as the increased security in place along the U.S. and Mexico border, despite there being nearly no negative effects to immigration. When President Joe Biden won the 2020 election, many Americans, myself included, hoped he would take the proper measures to put an end to these policies, especially since it was one of his biggest campaign promises. Despite being almost a year into Biden’s presidency, almost nothing has changed when it comes to how America treats the people that try to enter its borders. 

Up until recently, it seemed as though the Biden administration’s handling of immigration was not in the public eye. There was little news coverage or discourse surrounding it. This all changed after a video was released showing a U.S. border patrol agent using the reins of his horse to whip Haitian migrants seeking asylum. This video has caused the Biden administration’s first immigration-related controversy, and deservingly so given the highly immoral actions that take place within it. However, it has sparked a wider conversation around the administration’s handling of immigration in general, and things aren’t looking very good.

One of the biggest failures of the Biden administration’s handling of immigration so far has been the massive amount of undocumented immigrants and asylum seekers that have been deported. Despite promises to have zero deportations during Biden’s first hundred days in office, advocacy groups have estimated there were in fact over 26,000 deportations in his first 29 days, many of which were enacted using the controversial Title 42, a law that allows the government to remove individuals during public health emergencies. While this law has rarely been used in the past, the Trump administration used an interpretation of the law to turn away and deport migrants after the COVID-19 pandemic began last year. Even though Biden has been critical of the Trump administration’s handling of immigration, his administration has shown no restraint in using Title 42 to remove migrants and asylum seekers. These actions show not only hypocrisy from Biden and his administration, but also a concerning lack of empathy for the people they are removing from the country. Despite the backlash, Biden has continued to defend the use of Title 42.

The Biden administration has also failed to fulfill its promise to end the use of detention centers, which continue to have extremely poor living conditions, especially for the many children who end up being kept there. This was revealed early this year when photos from inside a detention center in Texas were revealed. These photos show migrants being held in cramped rooms, with thin mattresses and foil blankets and plastic sheets put up between groups as one of the only COVID-19 prevention measures. Despite being expelled from the country due to a COVID-19 risk these photos show little effort is being put in to keep these people safe from the virus. These photos show that the conditions migrants face once captured in the U.S. are just as bad as they were under the Trump administration, demonstrating once again the hypocrisy of the Biden administration on immigration policy.

This lack of meaningful action from the Biden administration when it comes to immigration is not only disappointing. It also makes little sense from Biden’s perspective. Not only is immigration reform just the right thing to do, it’s also extremely popular among Democrats. Putting in the work to improve the conditions of migrants and letting more asylum seekers into the country could be very helpful in guaranteeing that either he or another Democrat will be elected as the next president. Hopefully, Biden and those within his administration end up realizing this and start making some real change. Until then, the thousands of people who come to our country every year seeking a better life are faced with the same cruel treatment at the hands of the U.S. government.

Keoni Jones is an Opinion Columnist and can be reached at jonejohn@umich.edu.