Though Trump has not—and does not—plan to concede the presidential race to Biden, he’s spent the weeks since the election working to cement his legacy, a tacit admission that he will one day leave office.
Recently, these preparations have included scrambling to deliver on his signature campaign pledge to build a wall along the southern border of the United States. The Trump administration must complete an additional 48 miles of wall to meet its goal of building 450 miles of new border wall during Trump’s term: According to the New York Times, 402 miles of it had been finished as of earlier this month, the result of government-contracted construction teams “nearly doubling” the rate of construction in 2019.
As the Times crucially points out, only 25 of the 402 miles completed had no border wall in place before; the vast majority of the border wall constructed under Trump has merely involved replacing portions of the existing wall that were in disrepair. But of course the extreme rhetoric and policies that have accompanied Trump’s wall mandate has been immensely harmful to migrants. And Trump’s eleventh-hour attempt to finish the job means the incoming Biden administration will have a harder time reversing such measures.
Biden plans to immediately halt border wall construction upon taking office and roll back Trump’s travel ban on seven countries, most of which are predominantly Muslim. Biden’s immigration plans also include placing a 100-day freeze on deportations, and reinstating DACA, the Obama-era program that protects immigrants brought to the U.S. without documentation as children.
But immigrants rights advocates are looking for Biden to do more than undo Trump’s policies and return to norms established under Obama, whom they called “deporter-in-chief” during his re-election bid. They know that Trump has put Biden in a difficult position (which may become more difficult if Democrats don’t regain the Senate majority), but they’re determined to hold him accountable.
“Hell yeah, I’m optimistic. I don’t know what the hell we were going to do if Trump won again,” Marisa Franco, the executive director of Mijente, told Politico last week. “But then the other side of me is like, ‘I know how this works. ... I think it’s very possible for things to get lost and that’s what our job is: To make sure it doesn’t.”