By: Ben Loveman
As promised, President Biden kicked off his term by signing multiple executive orders aimed at protecting vulnerable immigrant populations, undoing the Trump Administration’s most controversial policies, and laying the groundwork for future policies to create a humane immigration system in the U.S. President Biden has also laid out a proposal to provide a pathway to permanent residency and then citizenship for an estimated 11 million undocumented people in the United States. But getting this ambitious plan passed will require compromise and legislative approval. In the meantime, President Biden has signed more limited executive orders providing much needed relief to populations and programs targeted by the prior Administration.
President Biden signed an executive order instructing U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to take necessary actions to protect the existing DACA program. This will ensure that immigrants brought to the U.S. as children (known as “DREAMERS”) will be able to renew their deferred action status and maintain protection from deportation while President Biden works with Congress to pass a more permanent solution for this population. Only those who already met the requirements for the original DACA program will directly benefit from this order but children who were previously too young to apply may now apply if they are 14 or older.
President Biden has also undone the extremely controversial travel ban which came to be known as the “Muslim Ban.” This Trump policy prohibited most if not all immigrants and some nonimmigrants from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, Venezuela, North Korea. Myanmar, Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Nigeria, Sudan, and Tanzania. The cancellation of the ban will allow for applicants from these countries to resume normal immigration processes and should allow for reunion of long-separated family members.
Other orders stop funding border wall construction on the U.S.-Mexico border, revokes the Trump administrations plan to exclude noncitizens from the census count, and overturns a Trump policy that made virtually all unauthorized immigrants high priority for deportation. Yet another order prohibits the deportation of Liberians who have been residing in the United States.
These day-one orders are welcomed by populations who were routinely terrorized by the prior administration and by their advocates. We hope that these initial policies will be followed by further and more far-reaching policies and legislative and new laws which will make the U.S. immigration system more humane. We are hoping to see other policies rescinded that impact H-1B visas, employment-based sponsorship and visa issuance, public charge analysis including elimination of the Form I-944, and many others. Stay tuned for additional updates!