There are a few changes we are seeing in immigration reforms due to the changes of administration. These changes are impacting policies for DACA and TPS recipients, asylum seekers and more.
On February 18, the Biden administration unveiled a new immigration bill. The bill called “U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021” is set to include:
If the bill does not pass in Congress, lawmakers are set to break down the bill into smaller legislation that could legalize farm workers and Dreamers right away. However, if the bill passes, it could eventually provide a pathway to citizenship for over half a million Dreamers and a five-year path to legal status, or a green card, for individuals who pass background checks, pay taxes and fulfill other requirements. Later, after five years, those individuals who complete that process can begin a three-year path to citizenship.
Currently, a federal judge in Texas is challenging the legality of the Obama-era program. Advocates, attorneys, and lawmakers are expecting a ruling from judge Andrew Hanen in the following weeks. If Judge Hanen rules DACA unlawful, the Biden administration would have to act fast and put pressure on Congress to offer permanent legal status for Dreamers.
On the first day of Biden’s presidency, he released an immigration reform bill with a path to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants, which was quickly shut down by Republicans.
We can’t forget that in 2019, The American Dream and Promise Act and the Farm Workforce Modernization Act were passed by the House. The American Dream and Promise Act reads “DHS shall establish streamlined procedures to apply for conditional permanent residence for aliens who received Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status and were not disqualified for renewal.”According to Congress.gov https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/6
Both legislations would provide permanent status for Dreamers, TPS, and farmworkers if it is passed by Congress.
In other news, border agents in Texas have started to release immigrant families that are not being accepted back into Mexico. This is evidence of how the new administration is set to treat immigrants. In the last administration, Trump implemented the stay in Mexico policy, which forced immigrants to wait in Mexico until their asylum request was accepted. Now, asylum seekers are being allowed in the country. As of January 27, up to 50 people have been released each day in South Texas. Even though most immigrants have been able to come to the country, there are thousands that are still waiting to be processed
Learn more about how Abogado Guerrero can help Asylum Seekers
President Biden has big plans on immigrant reform.
On his first day in office, Biden signs 17 executive orders, some of them reversing Trump’s previous immigration policies, including:
DACA & TPS
First, the president overturns the ending of DACA or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. This executive order calls for Congress to pass legislation to provide temporary status and a path to citizenship. The White House website reads “ The Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Attorney General, shall take all actions he deems appropriate, consistent with applicable law, to preserve and fortify DACA.”
Border Wall, Census 2020 and more
The president also signs other orders including halting the construction of the border wall. The wall was one of Trump’s main goals as a president, but as of September 2020, 321 miles of a border wall are implemented. The Trump administration decides not to include non-citizens be counted for the census 2020, something president Biden reversed in his executive orders. Since 1991 the U.S. provides a refugee for Liberians looking for safety, now Biden has signed an order to stop the deportation of these refugees. At the beginning of Trump’s administration, he implemented the so-called Muslim ban, which banned people from seven predominantly Muslim countries.
According to the White House website, the president’s orders are described as; “The policy of my Administration is to protect national and border security, address the humanitarian challenges at the southern border, and ensure public health and safety… My Administration will reset the policies and practices for enforcing civil immigration laws to align enforcement with these values and priorities.”
Starting today, the president will probably take immigration reform piece by piece, meaning the laws will be pass in smaller packages, one by one. However, it’s just a matter of waiting to see what applies to the immigration community while Congress makes a decision on the president’s executive actions.
What the 2020 election results means to immigrants
Joe Biden’s win means good news to the immigrant community, however the president-elect has a lot of work to do due to the previous immigration policies implemented by the Trump administration. The following are policies passed during the 4 years of Trump’s presidency.
On his first 100 days in office, after January 20, 2021, Biden is expected to tackle the following key immigration policy areas:
According to Biden’s website, the president-elect is set to send a bill to Congress that would include a pathway to citizenship for the estimated 11 million immigrants living in the country illegally along with DACA and TPS recipients.
The amount of refugee admission to the country has lowered since the POTUS took office in 2017. Biden may or may not raise that number.
On January 27, 2017, president Trump signed an executive order that banned so called “Muslim countries” to enter the US for 90 days. Biden plans to overturn this travel ban on his first 100 days in office.
According to Biden’s plan, he will halt the construction of the border wall and unite the families that were separated in the border.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Trump administration implemented entering restrictions to the country, as well as individuals who are skilled workers with H-1B visas and people seeking permanent residence.
The Trump administration has been acting fiercely towards the suspension of temporary work visas in the category of H-1B visas, which is related to skilled foreign workers. In their opinion, the foreign workers are taking away jobs from the Americans. It is reported that more than half a million H-1B visas have been issued so far.
It is estimated that nearly 358,000 green card approvals per year could be blocked by these new rules. Green card applications applied from abroad would also be blocked through the presidential proclamation. The new rules are implied to be favoring immigration from Western Europe. Although the chances of sustaining these policies are slim because of court challenges.
Companies are using this visa category to employ people from foreign countries and replacing the existing American workforce. This is putting great pressure on the administration to find jobs for this downsized American workforce. Generally, the tech industry and its related industries have been employing people from India, China, and Latin America in a special skilled workforce category.
The Trump administration is firm on their opinion of narrowing down the definitions of “Specialty Occupation”, to restrict the number of foreign workers coming into America and replace the real American workforce. Furthermore, the new rules will also restrict the time limit of skilled workforce visas to one year, and higher remuneration obligation to the company requesting for H-1B visas. The department of Homeland Security and Labor Department are committed to economic security along with territorial security. “The DHS rule will affect over one-third of the H-1B petitions” acting deputy secretary of Homeland Security Ken Cuccinelli told reporters. “I cannot overstate how big a deal this is.”