Biden Administration Takes Aim at Immigration Issue Via Executive Actions & Proposing Ambitious Immigration Reform Bill
Pasricha & Patel
Newly sworn-in President Biden has taken steps to unwind various Trump-era Executive Orders that impact immigration issues, while also promising to introduce an ambitious and comprehensive immigration legislation in the coming days.
Among the various Executive Orders that President Biden signed on January 20, 2021, include the following areas that impact immigrants:
Revoke visa issuance bans previously placed on Muslim-majority countries and then various African countries. Those countries had included: Eritrea, Iran, Kyrgyzstan, Libya, Myanmar (Burma), Nigeria, North Korea, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tanzania, Venezuela, and Yemen.
- To be sure, while this does lift the visa issuance ban, the visaapplicants from these countries will still have to undergo the securitybackground checks and requirements.
Protect and preserve the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program for “Dreamers”, who were brought to the United States when they were children and presently do not have any legal status in the United States;
Halt the construction of the border wall on the U.S.’s southern border;
Hit pause on all federal agency regulatory activities so that the Biden administration can review any and all Trump-era agency rules and guidance documents that either are not yet in effect or have not yet been finalized.
- This is customary practice for all incoming Presidents.
- But this likely means that the various rules and regulations thatthe Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Laborconcerning(a) H-1B employer-employee relationship definition and addedburdens to beplaced on end clients; (b) the revised H-1B lottery allocation procedure;and (c) the Department of Labor’s prevailing wage rule that would haveresulted in increase in the wage levels, would likely be put on hold, atleast temporarily while the incoming agency and department heads reviewthem.
Order the Department of Homeland Security to set different priorities on enforcement-related activities.
- This likely means the DHS and its agencies like Immigration andCustoms Enforcement (ICE) will be shifting its focus to remove immigrantswho have prior criminal records, rather than removing those whodo not haveany criminal records.
Revoke the Trump administration’s previous Executive Order to exclude undocumented immigrants from the U.S. census count;
Extend the Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) for qualifying Liberians until June 30, 2022. This is a form of relief for immigrants from countries that face unrest or natural disasters;
Furthermore, President Biden has promised that he will be introducing immigration reform legislation in the U.S. Congress in the coming days. Some of the key areas that will be contained in his proposed bill include:
Provide a pathway to citizenship for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants who are present in the United States on January 1, 2021.
- There will be a five (5) year path to permanent residences for allof them, followed by a three (3) year wait for naturalization to becomeU.S. citizens.
- Certain individuals who have long-standing ties to the U.S. andhave been previously vetted by the U.S. will have expeditedprocessing, andthis would include those estimated 1 million DACA recipients,and those whoare in Temporary Protected Status, and also agricultural workers.
Eliminate the three (3)- and ten (10) year bars, thereby expand legal immigration options.
- The new bill seeks to reverse the bars which has prevented greencard applicants who are otherwise eligible to legalize their status butcannot do so while in the U.S. The bars prevent them fromreturning to theU.S. for either 3 years or 10 years after being in the U.S. withoutauthorization.
Expand existing immigration options by:
- Allowing the recapture of millions of previously unused visas inorder to reduce ‘green card’ backlogs;
- Eliminate per-country caps on visas;
- Allow for expedited paths to lawful permanent residents forchildren and spouses of lawful permanent residents.
- Also prevent children of H-1B visa holders (on H-4 dependentstatues) from aging out and being forced to leave the U.S.;
What is also notable about President Biden’s immigration proposals is that he seeks to de-link immigration enforcement from comprehensive immigration reform and solutions. Rather than focusing solely on immigration and border enhancements, the bill seeks to support immigrants and provide more legal venues to achieve lawful permanent residence, and for some, eventual citizenship in the United States.
It should be noted that while the various Executive Orders
and executive actions taken by President Biden do have immediate effect, his comprehensive immigration reform proposals do face an uphill climb in the U.S. Congress in the days and months to come.
For this reason, we do encourage readers to continue to
visit our site for any news and updates regarding immigration-related developments. Should you need assistance with any specific issue, we suggest you contact our office and schedule consultation so that we may assist further.