President Biden Makes Immigration Changes
On Tuesday, February 2, 2021, Biden signed several executive orders and directives on immigration. Some people believe the orders are meant to reverse Trump’s immigration policies. However, these orders primarily call for a review, rather than ending Trump policies—although the Biden’s administration had said it would get rid of these policies. There is still a lot of room for improvement in immigration reform.
These policies include the infamous “Remain in Mexico” program, which made it hard for thousands of asylum seekers to cross the border. Another controversial policy was the “public charge” rule—this demands all immigrants to undergo a wealth test.
Family Reunification and Immigration Reform
The first order signed on Tuesday starts the “family reunification process”—this was one of Biden’s major campaign promises. During the Trump administration, over 5,500 children were separated from their families.
This order has created an inter-agency task force, which should identify all the immigrant children separated from their parents under the “zero-tolerance” border crackdown program established by the Trump admiration.
Led by Alejandro Mayorkas, secretary of homeland security, the task force should facilitate immigration reform and the reunification of immigrant families that are still separated. Activists who have been working to identify the separated families since 2019 say they are yet to locate over 600 children. Most of those parents were either deported to Central America or Mexico without their Kids.
Restoring Asylum in the United States
The second order addresses the issue of migrants seeking asylum in the United States. This order will focus on how to review the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) program, also known as (Remain in Mexico) policy introduced during the Trump administration. This policy required 70,000 asylum seekers to remain outside United States territory as their cases were arbitrated.
As part of this review, the Biden administration will focus on ways that the United States government should continue processing the cases of asylum seekers who are still in Mexico while prioritizing the asylum seekers considered to be the most vulnerable. This order also seeks to address the issue of violence and poverty in Central America, which has increased the number of migrants from this region seeking to enter the United States. Also, it ordered officials to consider canceling numerous asylum limits introduced during the Trump era.
While looking for a different way to implement Biden’s policy for a more humane and different review of asylum seekers, the MPP population will be prioritized because of the time they’ve waited, as well as the conditions they are forced to wait in.
Lastly, the order has called for the revival of an initiative introduced during the Obama administration. This initiative allowed at-risk minors in Central America to legally come to the United States if they had a family living legally in the country. This program was however canceled by the former president in 2017.
The third executive order requires agencies to conduct a comprehensive review of the recent policies, regulations, and guidance that have created a barrier to the country’s legal immigration system.
The first rule to go is the public charge rule which was introduced by former president Trump. The order required both the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security to review the regulations and policies implemented by former President Trump, which imposed limits on the entire legal immigration system.
These policies prevented immigrants from acquiring green cards or permanent resident status in case they hand or were expected to get public benefits, like housing subsidies. The policy is meant to make it easier for immigrants and service members with green cards to become U.S. citizens.
If you have questions, ask an immigration lawyer near you. We’re located in Albany, New York but serve immigrants all. over the United States. Reach out to our office so we can help you find out if these immigration changes impact you.