joe Biden´s immigration reform generates hope
In his first week in office, Biden issued six immigration-related executive orders, rescinding the Muslim ban, restoring DACA, ending further construction of Trump’s vaunted U.S.-Mexico border wall, and eradicating the Migrant Protection Protocols, in which immigrants seeking to enter the U.S. had to wait in Mexico until their asylum case was heard.
The new administration also ordered a 100-day moratorium on deportations, but U.S. District Court Judge Drew Tipton in Texas immediately blocked the order. Hours later, Immigration and Customs Enforcement deported a group of immigrants from Alexandria, Louisiana to Kingston, Jamaica.
Biden also unveiled a pathway to citizenship for the nation’s 11 million undocumented immigrants, including 1.7 million young people currently protected from deportation by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Biden has proposed an eight-year path to citizenship with immediate green cards for Dreamers.
Biden is also launching a new task force aimed at reunifying families and children separated by cruel policies at the U.S.-Mexico border. And he is expected to announce his rescission of public charge, an onerous rule which disqualifies immigrants who have availed of any federal benefits — such as food stamps or housing assistance — from attaining permanent status in the U.S.
“Public charge has a devastating impact from day one when it was first leaked intentionally back in 2017,” said Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, noting that even in the middle of a pandemic, many immigrants have denied themselves health care, for fear of impacting their immigration status.
Hincapie said rolling back of the rule, which has been on the books since 1862, must simultaneously occur with broad outreach efforts via community-based organizations to “help immigrant communities gain trust back to come forward and seek the benefits that they need.”
Biden has also stated his support for expanding business immigration and clearing green card backlogs that can last for several decades for people immigrating from Asian countries, said immigration attorney Cyrus Mehta at the EMS briefing.
The numbers of green cards allotted each year are woefully inadequate, said Mehta, adding that the wait could be lessened by eliminating the per-country cap that currently allots only 7 percent of all employment-based visas per year. India, for example, gets less than 10,000 green cards per year, while 800,000 wait in the queue.
Biden’s plan would reallocate unused visas and make it easier for foreign students earning STEM degrees to remain in the U.S. post graduation.
Biden´s Executive Orders Timeline
January 20. Fortifies DACA after Trump’s efforts to undo protections for undocumented people brought into the country as children.
January 20. Reverses the Trump administration’s restrictions on US entry for passport holders from seven Muslim-majority countries.
January 20. Undoes Trump’s expansion of immigration enforcement within the United States.
January 20. Halts construction of the border wall by terminating the national emergency declaration used to fund it.
January 20. Extends deferrals of deportation and work authorizations for Liberians with a safe haven in the United States until June 30, 2022.
February 2. Revokes Trump’s order justifying separating families at the border and creates a task force that recommends steps to Biden to reunite separated families.
February 2. Aims to address economic and political causes of migration, works with organizations to provide protection to asylum seekers and ensures Central American asylum seekers have legal access to the United States. Rescinds Trump administration policies and guidelines and also initiates a review of policies “that have effectively closed the U.S. border to asylum seekers”.
February 2. Rescinds Trump’s memo requiring immigrants to repay the government if they receive public benefits. Elevates the role of the executive branch in promoting immigrant integration and inclusion, including reestablishing a Task Force on New Americans. Requires agencies to review immigration regulations and policies.