President-elect Joe Biden says he won’t roll back President Trump’s immigration restrictions "on day one," but rather would take approximately six months to implement immigration reform policies in order to prevent triggering a surge of "2 million people on our border."
"I’ve already started discussing these issues with the president of Mexico and our friends in Latin America and the timeline is to do it so that we in fact make it better, not worse," the president-elect said Tuesday when asked during a press conference about the timetable for his immigration policy implementation.
Amid an increasing number of immigrants being detained at the nation’s southern border since his presidential election victory over President Trump last month, Biden emphasized that "the last thing we need is to say we’re going to stop immediately the, you know, the access to asylum the way it’s being run now and end up with 2 million people on our border."
President-elect Joe Biden speaks at The Queen Theater in Wilmington, Del., Tuesday, Dec 22, 2020. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Biden’s vowed to scrap the Trump administration’s policy which mandates that most Central Americans trying to migrate to the U.S. stay in Mexico while their asylum claims are being reviewed.
The president-elect, speaking to reporters during a pre-holiday speech and question and answer session in his hometown of Wilmington, Del., said it would take time to implement the changes because "it’s a matter of setting up the guardrails."
But he pledged "I will accomplish what I said I would do: A much more humane policy based on family unification. But it requires getting a lot in place. It requires getting the funding in place, including just asylum judges, for example."
"It will get done and it will get done quickly. But it’s not going to be able to be done on day one, lift every restriction that exists and go back to what it was 20 years ago and all of a sudden find we have a crisis on our hands that complicates what we’re trying to do," he explained.
Biden said that "it is going to take probably the next six months."
The president-elect’s comments came the day after Susan Rice and Jake Sullivan, his incoming domestic policy and national security advisers, respectively, told the Spanish wire service EFE that changes to the U.S. immigration system would "take time" and migrants should not expect the border to be "fully open" right away.
Those comments sparked Rep. Ilhan Omar , D-MN to accuse the Biden team of breaking a "core campaign promise."
"This is a classic bait and switch," the "Squad" member wrote on Twitter a couple of hours before Biden spoke on Tuesday. "It perpetuates Trump’s dehumanization of migrants and breaks a core campaign promise. Democrats lose big when administrations won’t fulfill their promise. I urge the Biden transition team to reconsider this position."
Asked about criticism from immigration reform advocates, Biden responded that "I’ve never told them anything I haven’t’ done. I’m working with them now. We’re dealing with some of those organizations as we speak."
Immigration was a major topic during the long 2020 election cycle. Biden was criticized by some of his nomination rivals during the Democratic presidential primaries and by Trump during the general election for the rise in deportations during his tenure as vice president under President Obama. The Obama administration faced a surge of unaccompanied minors trying to enter the U.S. in 2014. Some immigration activists called Obama the "deporter in chief" at the time.
Biden last month pledged to send to Congress in his first 100 days in office a bill that would offer a pathway to citizenship "for over 11 million undocumented people."
Fox News’ Morgan Phillips contributed to this report