On his first day in office, President Biden announced executive changes to U.S. immigration policy and support for congressional action to reform our immigration system. So many of us have been excited, hopeful, and curious – what exactly can we expect? How soon will these changes take effect?
Immigration Policy Changes Under Biden Administration
Things can always change as new policies are implemented, but here’s what we know as of his first 100 days in office:
The Muslim and African Travel Ban has ended.
Since 2017, the travel ban has kept apart thousands of immigrant families from 13 countries. The State Department will also be developing plans to reconsider visa denials issued under the ban.
Reversing this discriminatory ban means families can reunite at long last.
Draconian interior enforcement priorities are being reversed.
Former President Trump had issued an executive order that eliminated immigration enforcement priorities, placing all undocumented individuals at risk of deportation, including families and long-time residents.
Biden’s executive order reverses that policy and directs a Department of Homeland Security-wide review of immigration enforcement.
- The COVID-19 Ban on Issuance of Certain Visas is Being Lifted.
In 2020, President Trump issued Executive Orders related to Covid-19 and travel into the United States. These orders restricted the issuance of immigrant visas to certain family members of U.S. citizens and Permanent Residents and the issuance of temporary visas to individuals in some circumstances. This put many applications to immigrate to the United States on hold, and prevented some individuals from coming to the United States for temporary work assignments or other short-term stays. In his January 25, 2021 Proclamation, President Biden suspended most of the provisions of the Trump Covid-19 Travel Ban.
Background: Presidential Proclamations on Novel Coronavirus
- Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals has been protected and fortified.
This executive order calls on the Secretary of Homeland Security and Attorney General to work together to preserve and strengthen the DACA initiative. At this time, anyone who qualifies for DACA may file, so even those who never filed in the past may file now. DACA applicants may also apply for Advance Parole travel documents if they can demonstrate the need to travel internationally. However, the need to pass permanent relief for Dreamers and other individuals remains urgent.
- Immigrants will now be included in the U.S. Census.
Trump’s executive order calling on the U.S. Census to exclude undocumented immigrants from the 2020 Census has also been reversed. As a result, states will not lose out on congressional representation and federal funding due to an inaccurate census count.
- Venezuela has been designated for Temporary Protected Status (TPS)
The Biden Administration has designated Venezuela for TPS, allowing Venezuelan nationals present in the U.S. as of March 8, 2021 who otherwise qualify for TPS to apply to remain in the United States and obtain a work permit.
- Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) for Liberians has been extended, and Venezuelans may now apply for DED
DED has been extended for thousands of Liberians who have lived in the U.S. for many years. This extension gives people more time to apply for permanent residence under a December 2019 law—without risk of deportation.
- Border wall construction has been halted.
Within seven days, all new construction on the border wall will be stopped. This will be followed by a review of construction contracts and the creation of a plan to redirect wall funds.
The wall has cost American taxpayers billions of dollars, destroyed wilderness, and driven people seeking asylum to travel across dangerous locations.
Immigration Law Office in Houston Texas
Many immigration advocates are hoping for additional reforms to the United States immigration system, including a pathway to citizenship for DACA holders, TPS holders, and some undocumented immigrants. While the Biden administration has expressed support for these ideas, we do not yet have specific changes to our immigration system which would allow these categories of individuals to apply for green cards or citizenship. However, these individuals may apply for green cards based on family relationships, being the victim of a crime, or possibly through an employer’s petition. If you need to understand your options, contact our immigration law office in Houston, Texas, by clicking the orange button below: