With President Biden’s inauguration just days away, we are all waiting to see what this will mean for the direction of the country going forward, and specifically, for immigration policy.
Indeed, it seems like even the results of the election themselves have already helped to change the conversation around immigration, even before Biden has taken office. Here is what you need to know now.
Reestablishing the DACA Program
As we mentioned in our December newsletter, one nice surprise has been the reinstatement of the DACA program. On December 4, 2020, Judge Nicholas Garaufis of the Eastern District of New York ordered the government to reinstate the DACA program fully and immediately.
Effective December 7, 2020, USCIS began to accept first-time requests, renewal requests, and applications for advance parole documents, as well as extending one-year grants of deferred action and one-year employment authorization documents to two years.
However, it is important to note that the DACA program is not 100% safe, just yet. Other federal judges have reasserted their desire to end the program, and in its current state, we could see more pauses and reinstatements. President Biden has promised to send a bill to Congress to permanently safeguard DACA, and with Democrats taking control of the Senate in this month’s Georgia election, this promise is now a distinct possibility.
What to do now: Because DACA’s future is not 100% certain just yet, those thinking about filing a new application or one to renew their status should do so immediately, to take advantage of the current situation.
Reversing the Public Charge Rule
We have written at length about this rule, and just how destructive it is. In the beginning of December, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the public charge rule can actually financially harm states and does not in fact promote self-sufficiency as the administration had suggested. The court further stated:
“Addressing DHS’s contention that the statute’s overall purpose is to promote self-sufficiency, the panel concluded that providing access to better health care, nutrition, and supplemental housing benefits is consistent with precisely that purpose.”
The injunction created by the court applies to the Ninth Circuit and any other jurisdictions involved in current cases: Maine, Oregon, Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia. President Biden has promised to reverse this rule, and unlike border administration, we hope this would actually be possible to do in the short term without too much trouble.
Changing Border and Asylum Policies
In a press conference on December 22nd, President Biden noted that while he fully intends to reverse many of the Trump Administration’s destructive policies at the border, doing so will take months rather than days, stating a rough 6 month timeline at a minimum.
These statements are in contrast to President Biden’s campaign platform, which distinctly stated that reversing a number of the destructive policies at the border would be top of the list in the president’s first 100 days. Still, such exaggerations are not uncommon in campaigning, and we must face the reality of how difficult it actually is to undo four years of immigration policies.
But More Work Ahead of Us
Even with the Trump presidency on its last days, its policies are continuing to affect the immigration climate. On December 31st, the Ninth Circuit Court lifted a ban on an earlier Trump administration rule to prevent immigrants from entering the United States if they do not have health insurance or the means to afford hospital bills. The court found that the proclamation was within the president’s executive authority. The proclamation will be in place through mid-March, but the good news here is that anything done by one president’s executive power can be undone by another.
Also on December 31st, the administration extended two other proclamations, one banning immigration from most categories of legal immigrants, and another banning the entry of H-1B, L-1, and other temporary visa holders. As of now, these extensions are set to run through the end of March, but, again, we hope President Biden should be able to rescind them just as easily as they were put in place.
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In a recent interview with Univision, vice-President-elect Harris outlined the first steps the Biden administration plans to take on immigration. Some early priorities will include decreasing wait times to obtain citizenship and hiring more immigration judges to help decrease backlogs on court hearings. Importantly, the administration also plans to find a way to quickly grant green cards to immigrants protected by the Temporary Protected Status and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policies. We are eager to see what else lies ahead.
Have a question about immigration policy and how it affects you? Contact us today to schedule a consultation and discuss!