If you are one of the 11 million undocumented immigrants living and working in the United States, you are probably letting out a sigh of relief with President Joe Biden’s new executive measures and policy proposals.
Of course, calls to reform immigration policy in the U.S. is nothing new. Both Obama and Trump failed to get comprehensive reform through Congress, and it’s likely Biden won’t either.
However, through Biden, the U.S. has tacked a new direction from the previous administration on immigration policy.
The new president has done this in much the same way as his predecessors, through executive order. This method is not without its legal limitations. But the Democrats only have a razor-thin majority in the Senate. That means comprehensive immigration reform has at least a chance of coming to the floor. But it also means that it may struggle to garner enough votes or face a filibuster.
In the following article, we’ll take how Joe Biden has already changed immigration reform in the U.S.
Where Attempts to Reform Immigration Dies
Congress hasn’t passed an immigration reform law since 1996. So it’s been 25 years since the passing of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act. The country has depended on agency policy and rules for immigration change.
Obama, a Democrat, in his second term, did get legislation passed to address immigration, but the Republican-controlled House would not bring the bill, which passed the Senate, for a vote.
It was Obama who started using executive orders to tailor federal policy on immigration. Republican lawmakers decried the president’s use of executive orders as government overreach. An issue that Trump used to great effect in his campaign for president.
However, he ran into the same problems as Obama. He failed to enact comprehensive immigration legislation. Ultimately, he used the same methods he decried to change the immigration response of the U.S. government.
A border wall, “zero tolerance,” tougher asylum requirements, and a Muslim ban were all hallmarks of the Trump administration. Democrats decried these measures as draconian, unAmerican, and inhumane.
Now, Joe Biden has put his stamp on immigration policy by attempting to reverse Trump’s executive orders. Many of these fell in the first hours of Biden’s term.
Maybe the least effective but most symbolic of President Trump’s immigration reforms was the Southern Border Wall.
Among the raft of orders issued on Inauguration Day was a halt on the wall at the United States southern border. Biden’s order immediately halts construction. It also lifts the emergency declaration Trump used to siphon funds from defense programs to pay for the wall.
The Trump administration has already spent millions on the project. But this came without the authorization of Congress. Biden’s team will take a close look at Trump’s use of emergency powers to find the project.
One of the Biden administration’s major moves is to reverse course on Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals. Trump had tried unsuccessfully to dismantle the program.
DACA has helped protect thousands of people from deportation since the measure was enacted in 2012. Its basic premise is that you should not be sent back to your country of origin if America is the only home you’ve ever known.
It is one of the most popular immigration policies to come out of the Obama administration. Recently, Trump lost a federal court case that would have severely limited the program.
A 100-day moratorium has started on some deportations. Of course, many of the current deportation and ICE raids took place in Southern border states where Armistad Immigration Bonds helps clients. (Although our company does business all across the country.)
This moratorium for some “noncitizens” has already begun by Homeland Security. To enact this deportation pause, Biden reversed Trump’s order to make anyone in the country illegally a target for deportation.
Liberians Protections Restored
The Biden administration immediately reversed the legal status of Liberian refugees. The president’s order targets people who had journeyed to America to escape Liberia’s civil war. Technically, the order reinstates the group’s deferred enforced departure.
Unknown to much of the American public, Liberians found a haven in the United States starting in 1991. That year they were granted Temporary Protected Status.
Since the Liberian civil war ended in 2003, the Trump administration saw no reason to continue with the protections. However, much of the group now live and work in the U.S. and still fear returning to a country where they were persecuted and may not recognize it.
The Biden administration has stopped the policy of asking Mexico to hold amnesty seekers from South America.
The Trump administration asked Mexico to hold these seekers while they awaited an amnesty hearing. This is one of the many complicated immigration processes overseen by the federal government.
However, the administration is stressing patience. Homeland Security does not want to spark a rush on the border. They urge asylum seekers to continue to wait in Mexico as a new process for reviewing their cases is worked out.
Muslim Ban Lifted
Biden also did away with Trump’s Muslim travel ban. This was an early hallmark of the former administration. It was challenged in court unsuccessfully many times but was upheld.
The Trump executive order banned travel to the U.S. from predominantly African and Muslim countries. In another of Biden’s first moves, he directed his State Department to take action.
The State Department is once-again issuing visas from those countries. It is also looking at ways to identify and redress any harm from the ban.
Can Biden Reform Immigration Law?
The biggest challenge for the new administration will be to pass legislation to reform immigration. The legislation reportedly would grant citizenship to many of the 11 million living in the U.S. illegally. This would include DACA recipients.
The bill would also change the wording from “alien” in U.S. immigration policy to “noncitizen.” A move meant to take the teeth out of anti-immigration rhetoric.
Do you need help navigating the current immigration system? Call us today with questions or immigration bond needs.