The Obama-Biden administration focused on both border enforcement and a call to change immigration laws to benefit some immigrants.
He also announced Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals to help some immigrants avoid deportation.
The Senate approved tough immigration measures by large bipartisan majorities as Bill Clinton was running for re-election.
"We are still dealing with the consequences of the laws passed in 1996," said Rick Su, an immigration law professor at the University of North Carolina School of Law.
"Indefinite detention" is a tricky term that obscures the goal of the legislation.
It was meant to detain immigrants until they were deported — not to detain them with no end in sight.It’s only recently that some Democrats have promoted more lenient border policies amid reports about conditions at detention sites, such as abolishing Immigration and Customs Enforcement or severely curbing deportation.Biden, along with the vast majority of the Senate, voted for bills to make it easier to detain, and then deport, more immigrants. At the same time, I have learned how important it is to put this choice and this act into context.About 70 percent of the migrants we serve tell us that they cross for economic reasons."It largely took away the rights for aliens who entered illegally to see an immigration judge prior to being removed," said Arthur, who is now a fellow for the Center for Immigration Studies, which advocates for low levels of immigration.Combined, the laws led to a massive increase in deportations, wrote Princeton immigration experts Douglas Massey and Karen Pren.They passed by overwhelming margins with bipartisan support.The antiterrorism bill, which passed about one year after the Oklahoma City bombing, gave the federal government more tools to combat terrorism, to limit death-row appeals and to make it easier to deport immigrants who had committed crimes.The number of people removed reached an all-time high at 409,849 in 2012, less than Trump’s record, although later in Obama’s presidency he focused on deporting criminals. Pagano said Biden "voted to expand deportations and indefinite detention for immigrants multiple times." Biden voted for bills in 1996 that gave the federal government more power to detain and deport immigrants.Biden wasn’t an outlier in the Senate; these measures passed with wide majorities with significant Democratic support and were signed by Clinton.