Baker Institute's Norman: Election a pivot point for US immigration policy

Feet with two arrows on the ground. One going right labeled "legal" and another one going left labeled "illegal"

A Joe Biden presidency would “roll back many of the Trump administration’s attacks" on immigrants to the United States, but that may not be enough to pacify critics of the Obama administration's immigration policies who seek new protected pathways to citizenship, according to a new brief from an expert at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy.

Kelsey Norman, fellow for the Middle East at the Baker Institute and director of its Women’s Rights, Human Rights and Refugees program, is available to discuss the topic with the news media.

When Biden served as vice president under President Barack Obama, critics saw that administration's immigration policies as too focused on enforcement and deportation, without enough political resources dedicated to ensuring legal pathways for people to come to or remain in the U.S., Norman wrote.

Credit: University.
Credit: University.

Immigrants to the U.S. generally arrive through one of three pathways: humanitarian arrivals, family reunification or employment-based visas. “With guidance from White House adviser Stephen Miller, the Trump administration has attempted to minimize the number of individuals arriving across all immigration categories over the last four years,” she wrote.

“If Biden wants to chart a truly different course going forward, he will have to not only roll back changes made under the Trump administration but also actualize his promise to pursue comprehensive immigration reform and expand opportunities for legal immigration across humanitarian, family and employment-based categories,” she wrote.

Reelection of President Donald Trump would embolden the White House in its mission to minimize both legal and illegal immigration, continuing to assert that “America is better off without further immigration,” Norman wrote.


To schedule an interview with Norman, or for more information, contact Avery Franklin, media relations specialist at Rice, at or 713-348-6327.

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Founded in 1993, Rice University’s Baker Institute ranks as the No. 2 university-affiliated think tank in the world and the No. 1 energy think tank in the world. As a premier nonpartisan think tank, the institute conducts research on domestic and foreign policy issues with the goal of bridging the gap between the theory and practice of public policy. The institute’s strong track record of achievement reflects the work of its endowed fellows, Rice University faculty scholars and staff, coupled with its outreach to the Rice student body through fellow-taught classes — including a public policy course — and student leadership and internship programs. Learn more about the institute at or on the institute’s blog,