President Biden Starts Implementing His Immigration Policies20 Jan 2021
Joseph R. Biden, Jr. was sworn in today as the 46th president of the United States, and he has already begun the process of undoing Trump’s immigration policies. To start with, by the end of the day, President Biden will have signed several executive orders related to immigration. Moreover, he has proposed a major immigration bill to Congress that, if passed, would provide a number of major benefits to foreign nationals seeking to become lawful permanent residents (i.e., “green card” holders).
The following are brief summaries of the immigration-related executive orders President Biden is signing today:
- End of “Muslim Ban” – Effective immediately, the travel ban Trump enacted, which applied primarily to various Muslim majority countries, is no longer in effect.
- Protection for “Dreamers” – President Biden ordered the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) to take action to protect the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which provides immigration protections for undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children.
- New Priorities for Immigration Enforcement – Per President Biden, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and other federal agencies will set new priorities for enforcement efforts. This likely will result in a shift in focus to undocumented immigrants who also have criminal convictions.
- Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) for Qualifying Liberians – President Biden is extending the DED designation for qualifying Liberians until June 30, 2022.
- End of New Border Wall Construction – President Biden is putting an end to Trump’s unsuccessful efforts to erect a border wall covering the entire U.S.-Mexico border.
Proposed Immigration Reform Bill
President Biden is asking Congress to swiftly pass a bill that would transform the U.S. immigration process. While the bill covers many aspects of U.S. immigration policy, what follows is a brief summary of some of the key proposed provisions:
- Provide a path for U.S. citizenship for undocumented immigrants;
- Take various steps to eliminate backlogs of family-based green cards, including recapturing unused visas and increasing per-country caps;
- Take various steps to eliminate backlogs of employment-based green cards, including recapturing unused visas and eliminating the per-country cap for employment-based green cards;
- Provide H-4 dependents with work authorization and prevent dependent children from aging out.
- Provide the DHS with the authority to adjust the number of green cards available each fiscal year based on economic conditions.
President Biden has many significant challenges to face. It is unclear how much of a priority immigration reform will be for the new administration. But, at the very least, there is reason to believe that U.S. immigration policy will be more favorable to foreign nationals than it was the previous four years.
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