Mon | Nov 30, 2020

Immigration Rollback - Diaspora leaders want Biden-Harris admin to reverse draconian measures affecting Caribbean expatriates

Published:Saturday | November 14, 2020 | 12:12 AMLester Hinds/Gleaner Writer

Leaders of the Jamaican diaspora in the United States have expressed their belief that a Biden-Harris administration will roll back President Donald Trump’s draconian immigration policies, which have targeted family reunification as well as legal immigration that affects the Caribbean region.

Speaking at a Gleaner Editors’ Forum on Thursday, Jamaica’s former ambassador to the United Nations, Curtis Ward, said he felt that the incoming Biden-Harris administration will execute a number of executive orders that will undo the Trump administration immigration orders.

“The Trump administration through executive orders made legal immigration more difficult. They made a path to citizenship for legal immigrants more difficult. They targeted family reunification as well as legal immigrants. I believe that the new Biden-Harris administration will roll back much of these orders and create a more favourable condition for immigrants,” Ward said.

He believes that the incoming US administration will create a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants through a comprehensive immigration policy.

“The overall hostile immigration policy of the Trump administration affects us all. It also affects the US economy, as immigrants contribute some US$2 billion annually to the US economy,” he said.

Ambassador Ward pointed out that the United States is a multicultural and multiracial country, made so by immigrants.

“Immigrants make America great,” he said.

Irwine Clare, head of the Queens-based Caribbean Immigration Services, said that under the Trump administration, family reunification was under severe threat.

“Ninety per cent of Jamaicans who migrate to the United States do so through family reunification, and the Trump administration was seeking to close the door to such immigration,” he said.

Clare said that had Trump secured a second term, his administration would have implemented other measures to further hinder legal immigration.

Patrick Beckford, a former diaspora adviser board leader for the Northeast Region, said he believes that people under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) will be allowed to remain in the US and a pathway to citizenship opened to them.

“We have more than 3,000 Jamaicans in the DACA programme and they should not be under constant threat of deportation. Further, immigrants from Jamaica and the Caribbean have helped to build America, and we should not as legal immigrants and citizens be under threat,” he said.

“I look forward to the new administration taking up comprehensive immigration reform that will allow those in the shadows to come out and legally contribute to the development of the country without fear of deportation,” he said.