President-Elect Biden’s Proposed Immigration Reform

We can expect to see significant shifts in U.S. immigration policy next year. President-Elect Biden has vowed to begin rapidly dismantling the Trump-era immigration agenda after taking office on January 20, 2021.

Because President Trump used Executive Orders to enact a significant portion of his immigration reform, Biden will be able to overturn certain of Trump’s policies with executive orders of his own. But some of Biden’s proposals will be more challenging to implement, as they will require Congress to pass specific immigration legislation.

Let’s take a glimpse at the latest immigration reform news and some of the reforms Biden has planned.

Proposed Immigration Reform

1. Reverse Border Policies that Separate Parents from Children

Biden has stated that during the first 100 days of his Administration, he plans to end any policy of separating migrant parents from their children at the border and will stop prosecuting parents for minor immigration violations. He also promises to make reunifying children separated from their parents a priority.

2. Restore Protections for Asylum-Seekers and Refugees

Biden plans to loosen the asylum application restrictions the Trump administration instituted and will ensure that the government processes asylum applications justly and efficiently. He also intends to direct the appropriate resources, humanitarian and otherwise, toward migrants awaiting the resolution of their claims and enable them to live with dignity and in safety.

3. Reinstate and Expand the DACA Program

In 2012, the Obama-Biden administration created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which protects undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children (“Dreamers”) from deportation under specific circumstances. The Trump administration ended the program in 2017, but Biden wants to restore it. He also intends to find legal means to help keep Dreamers’ families together and plans to direct resources toward education and programs that will allow Dreamers to better contribute to the U.S. economy. Biden also wants to work with Congress to ensure that Dreamers have a path to naturalized citizenship.

4. Rescind the Muslim Ban

Biden plans to reverse the U.S. entry ban that President Trump placed on Muslims from certain countries. Biden states that the ban is “morally wrong” and that there is no evidence such a ban will make the U.S. more secure.

5. Reform ICE

Over the past four years, the Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency’s harsh approach to immigration enforcement has struck terror in the hearts of many immigrants. Biden plans to end ICE’s workplace raids and protect sensitive locations (such as schools, churches, and medical establishments) from immigration enforcement actions. He also wants to avoid targeting people who have never been convicted of a serious criminal offense and who are upstanding members of their community. Moreover, every person ICE apprehends will be afforded due process and treated with the respect that every human being should have.

6. Initiate Employment-Based Immigration Reform

Biden intends to work with Congress to revamp the temporary work-based visa program. His goal is to expand “the number of high-skilled visas and eliminating the limits on employment-based visas by country,” while minimizing abuse of the system.

7. Review Temporary Protected Status (TPS)

Under the U.S.’s TPS program, foreign nationals in the U.S. may temporarily remain in the country and work legally if their country of origin is experiencing a crisis that prevents them from safely returning. The Trump administration ended these protections for several countries, including El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Sudan. Biden intends to review the TPS to include vulnerable populations.

Ellen Sullivan represents clients in matters related to immigration, naturalization, asylum, and deportation and removal. Call (617) 714-4375 or email to get in touch.