IMMIGRATION CHANGES TO EXPECT UNDER THE BIDEN ADMINISTRATION
JANUARY 20, 2021
As all of us know, President Biden will be inaugurated this upcoming January of 2021. With the new administration there are lots of changes; good changes, we are all anticipating and hoping for. Amongst the many changes, Immigration is a huge concern for us all.
Easy and quick changes are those that can be implemented within the first 100 days of Biden’s presidency; they can be easily done.
Most of the immigration policies and changes brought by the Trump Administration were done by issuing Executive Orders and did not go through Congress. Thus, in the same way, it will be easy for President Biden to reverse these policies by issuing new Executive Orders.
Additionally, as soon as a new Attorney General is in place, any immigration policies promulgated by the Attorney General could also be easily undone.
Ending Travel Bans- Biden’s administration has pledged to immediately rescind travel and refugee bans also known as “Muslim bans”. So, we can expect these bans to be rescinded quickly.
Immediately reinstatement of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
Reverse Trump’s public charge rule which denies individuals of a green card if they are likely to use housing vouchers, food stamps and nonemergency Medicaid, among other public benefits even for a certain amount of time.
Asylum protections will be restored. The Biden Immigration Plan would restore protections to persons applying for asylum in the U.S. It would rescind the Remain in Mexico policy and insure that asylum seekers have the same rights that they had prior to the Trump Administration. The refugee quota would be increased from 15,000 to 125,000 annually.
The Biden Immigration Plan calls for the stop of for-profit detention centers and workplace raids. He also plans to protect sensitive locations from immigration enforcement actions such as schools, hospitals, places of worship.
Changes that will be a bit more difficult are those that have to be passed by Congress. Since there is a split between the Democrats and Republicans in both the Senate and House of Representatives, it will be difficult to pass a lot of immigration legislation.
Family Based Immigration- Currently, you are considered an immediate relative if you are: a. The spouse of a U.S. citizen.
The unmarried child under 21 years of age of a U.S. citizen; or.
The parent of a U.S. citizen (if the U.S. citizen is 21 years of age or older).
Biden proposes to change the law to include spouses and unmarried children of green card holders as “immediate relatives” along with spouses, children and parents of U.S. citizens. This would exempt them from current numerical quotas.
Additionally, Biden plans to “double the number of immigration judges, court staff and interpreters. Currently, there is a backlog in immigrant court of cases. Doubling judges and staff will potentially ease that burden and decrease the wait time between masters and individuals. So right now, you may be an asylee who is not scheduled to appear for an Individual for maybe 1, 2 or even 3 years. But with an increase of judges, we can anticipate these cases to be adjudicated rather quickly. But of course, be mindful that this means you would a lot less time to prepare yourself and your case.
Reforming Employment Based Immigration- Biden agrees that temporary work visas are good for our economy and country, but he also recognizes that they may have been abused thus he is going to try to reform those programs. For example, allowing cities and other localities to sponsor foreign-born workers to relieve labor shortages is an idea that Republicans and Democrats may both like. In fact, given the pandemic we are facing, it is possible for Congress to make it easier for foreign-born healthcare professionals to get visas and green cards to save as many American lives as possible.
Impossible changes which quite frankly are very ambitious, and we do not see happening. We do not see Republicans and Democrats agreeing on these changes.
Allowing approved I-130 applicants into the country- The Biden Immigration Plan would also allow any family member with an approved I-130 to enter the U.S. on a nonimmigrant visa while he or she waits for their priority date to be current. This is something I do not expect to be done easily. For this to happen, the HOR and Senate would have to agree before laws can be passed and quite frankly, I do not see that happening.
Comprehensive Immigration Reform- There are millions of undocumented individuals currently in the U.S. A plan for a path to citizenship for them is highly ambitious and it is very unlikely Congress will be able to come together on this issue.