In a few short weeks, we’re going to have a new President in the US. In this article, we’ll talk about what he promised in his campaign, what other political leaders recommend, what we think should change, and the likelihood of things changing.
There is a run-off election tomorrow in Georgia that will likely impact this as well. If Republicans retain power it is less likely that Biden will be able to make as many of the changes as he hopes to because that is not appealing to many conservatives and Grand Old Party (GOP; also known as the Republican Party) supporters. If the Democrats win it is more likely that Biden will have the support needed for any changes he wants to make to immigration laws.
9 Changes Biden promised on Immigration
Reverse Family Separation
He would immediately reverse the family separation policy that is currently in place. Since this is a policy that doesn’t require Senate approval this is something a new President will be able to change immediately.
End Trump’s asylum policies
Throughout the Trump administration, the number of visas available to those seeking asylum has been reduced. This administration put more roadblocks in place for those seeking it as well, such as the “remain in Mexico” requirements.
He also has worked with countries outside the US to help to enforce these policies by threatening economic sanctions if they didn’t keep asylum seekers and offering incentives for those who did.
Because of that many asylum seekers found themselves worse off than before they tried to obtain asylum. To add to this, on August 1, 2020, a new policy went into effect for asylum seekers regarding work authorization and other policies have since been adopted to increase interviews for derivative beneficiaries.
What can Biden do?
If policies are in place that don’t need congressional approval, Biden will most likely implement them. But he will need to do so judiciously. This means if there were a sudden rush of tens of thousands of people at the border, especially with Covid and the current economic situation in the US, he would probably be roundly criticized for opening the borders.
However, there are some things he could implement immediately that wouldn’t hurt the US further and would help those seeking asylum. These include:
- He could allow for more visas for asylum seekers.
- He could take away the requirement that immigration judges’ raises and job security are based on the number of denials they issue.
- He could change immigration judges to those who are more pro-immigration and remove those who have denial rates of over a certain percentage.
- He could create a task force to work with human rights groups to change the policies that have so negatively impacted asylum seekers.
- He could implement economic sanctions for those countries with human rights violations.
- He could remove the immigration bans toward those from Muslim countries.
- He could increase the number of refugees allowed.
- He could increase both immigration judge numbers as well as increased immigration officers and USCIS employees to speed up processing times. The problem with most recent immigration judges is that they have little to no immigration experience. So he could refocus on hiring judges with relevant experience.
- He could decrease unnecessary interviews that seemed designed to only delay the process.
- He could remove the restrictions on asylum seekers being able to apply for work authorization. Remember it’s now 365 days after their application is received by USCIS, it used to be 150 days.
- He could work to re-establish the US as a welcoming place that is made better by the immigrants we accept.
- And he could create an amnesty program, which we talked about in a previous video you can watch here. We have an English version and a Spanish version.
End prolonged detention and increase case management
President-Elect Biden promised to end prolonged detention and increase case management. Prolonged detention of immigrants is not helpful to the US. It increases costs, increases COVID cases, and, in some instances, has garnered Human Rights violations from the UN and others.
There is a new policy that wants to take away the right to work while awaiting deportation. Likely, the US can only be helped by people working legally while in the US. We get their taxes, they are gainfully employed, and the money they earn is reinvested in the communities in which they live.
To increase case management, more workers would need to be hired or roles modified within already existing employees. This isn’t a bad thing and could probably be implemented relatively easily.
Reverse Public Charge
Courts have already stopped the public charge rule from being applied both here and abroad. Since it is not a law that has been enacted it would be easy for it to be removed from USCIS policy. Remember that it has almost always been a requirement for entry into the US that immigrants can support themselves, or they have a sponsor who can. This will not and should not change.
What the public charge rule tried to do is to reduce immigration unless people made a certain amount and increased the subjective decision-making process of USCIS officers, that is never a good idea.
Take Money from “Building a Wall” to Fund the Military
President Biden also promised to end the national emergency that is taking money from the Department of Defense to build a wall.
Trump has only built 5 miles of a wall since he got in office. Also, Russia hacked into the US government for MONTHS without the Trump administration knowing or protecting US interests or citizens. After they knew, they didn’t seem to do much to stop it.
It would be much more important for the Department of Defense to fight cyber and other threats than it is to build a wall. Hopefully, the majority of Americans would agree with that, including Republicans.
There is ongoing legislation about DACA in Texas, which we’ll talk about later on. There has been an effort for almost 2 decades now to pass a bill that both parties agree with to give legal status to those who came here as children.
While it would be lovely to see President Biden do something to allow for this, unless both the House and Senate approve, there will probably be continuing legal fights about DACA.
If the Republicans remain in power, it is unlikely that the Senate could pass anything. Even if the Democrats gain power in the Senate, the remaining Republicans will fight any changes to please their base of voters. That means they may put up a huge fight about this issue if they think that will get them the votes they need.
President Biden could implement something while strictly following the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) so that any legal fights would be less likely to prevail.
What’s the issue with the Texas DACA case?
When Trump ended DACA by memo, the legal fight was about, “can Trump eliminate DACA the way he did?” The case in Texas is different. It says “did Obama create the program the way he should have?” He didn’t.
Trump has been losing across the board on the issue of DACA because of the way he eliminated it. The supreme court said that the APA needs to be followed for DACA cases, meaning that it should follow the rule-making process. Obama didn’t follow this rule when he made DACA. That’s why the Texas case would be successful
President Biden could reissue DACA according to the rule-making process. If Trump can remove DACA following the right process, it follows that another president could create a program like DACA with the same process.
Now, the Supreme Court has a majority of conservative justices. It is unlikely that if there were a legal fight, they would uphold something that didn’t pass legal muster.
We will be watching this closely and let you know when anything arises you need to know about.
Rescind Muslim bans.
Frankly, refusing entry to anyone because of their religion or the majority religion in the country they come from seems anti-American. Isn’t freedom part of what this country was founded on?
President-elect Biden has always been opposed to those who have criminal pasts being allowed to immigrate. That is not only those from Muslim countries. Our office fully supports legal immigration and if you are eligible, we want you to be welcomed with open arms. We hope that this disgraceful ban is lifted asap.
Immediately Review TPS Changes
President Trump has removed protections for those with Temporary Protected Status (TPS) from a variety of countries. Some have already lost their protection and others will this month.
Hopefully, President Biden changes that immediately. The US has always been a welcoming safe place for those who are not safe in their own countries and it should remain so.
President Biden should also develop a plan for granting permanent status to those who have TPS. Many have lived here for decades and it seems unfortunate that their life could be upended by the whims of a political party or person trying to get more votes. We should be better than that and we need to show everyone that we are.
Make ICE and CBP accountable
President Biden said he would ensure Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) abide by professional standards and are immediately held accountable for inhumane treatment.
It does feel like we have seen a reduction in civility across the board during the Trump administration. We hope that changes. That we all become kinder. That we recognize the humanity in everyone and we treat each other respectfully.
So that is what President-Elect Biden said he would change in immigration during his campaign and how I think they will play out.
What do we think should change?
A different mindset towards immigration
We can all agree that the immigration system in the US needs a massive overhaul. We need both Democrats and Republicans agreeing to make changes, meaning more people and more money put toward changing the current system. With the country grappling with thousands of deaths daily from COVID, there is much that will have to be considered before the drastic change can happen.
Do we want it to happen? We would rejoice with everyone if legal immigration were easier for all who want to enter the US?
Will it happen overnight or even in the 4 years? There will likely be small positive changes. I think it is unlikely that the entire system will be dramatically different 4 years from now.
It isn’t that Trump has changed immigration laws but the mentality of immigration and its seven agencies has completely changed. The mentality used to be “how can we help you achieve your immigrant goals?” to “how can we deny your goals and aspirations for any reason possible?”
Pillars of Reform
We need the mindset to change again but we also need simple fixes.
Fix border security. I think everyone agrees it should be improved. Keep people from illegally entering the United States
Fix the backlogs. Over a million cases in immigration courts. People wait for decades for visas. Clean up the process. Simplify the methods to enter the US
Fix the future flow of immigrants. What immigrants do we want to come in the future? For agriculture, for tech? Do we need more doctors and nurses? Do we need more skilled labor? What does that look like for people who want to work here for some time but do not want to live permanently? If they want to come in, give them the chance to stay with certain criteria.
Finally, we need an independent judiciary.
Everything we discussed before falls underneath these four pillars. We think this should all happen and we remain hopeful that it will.
We definitely need small positive changes and the mindset. Depending on what the election results are, and if Biden makes immigration a priority, we should get meaningful reform. Stay tuned with us and we will update you on these changes.
If you need an immigration lawyer, call our office. If we can’t help you, we won’t take your money. We can’t help you if you don’t call us. Contact us today through Andres Mejer Law or call us at 888-421-9942.