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President-Elect Joe Biden and Immigration – Immigration Lawyer New York
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President-Elect Joe Biden and Immigration

By Michael H. Markovitch, Esq. on November, 12, 2020

Based on what President-Elect Joe Biden has said in the past, here is what to expect  in six key immigration policy areas:

 

1. IMMIGRATION REFORM AND ‘DREAMERS’

Biden plans to send an immigration bill to Congress on his first day in office in January that includes a pathway to citizenship for the estimated 11 million immigrants living in the country illegally, a campaign official told Reuters.  How realistic this is  another matter.

The bill would also address the status of so-called “Dreamers” living in the United States illegally after entering as children. Under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program started by former President Barack Obama, roughly 644,000 Dreamers are granted deportation relief and work permits.

Trump sought to end DACA, but the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June that his administration did not follow proper legal procedures.

Biden’s immigration reform bill will include a path to citizenship for more than 400,000 people covered by the Temporary Protected Status program. Trump moved to phase out most enrollment in the program, but was slowed by legal challenges.

 

2. TRUMP’S TRAVEL BANS

On Day One of his presidency, Biden intends to rescind Trump’s travel bans on travelers from 13 countries, most of them either majority-Muslim or African nations.

Shortly after taking office in 2017, Trump issued an executive order that banned travelers from seven majority-Muslim nations from entering the United States. The administration reworked the order several times amid legal challenges and the Supreme Court upheld a version of it in 2018. The countries subject to entry restrictions have changed over the years.

The bans could be easily undone, as they were issued by executive order and presidential proclamation, according to policy experts, but lawsuits from conservatives could delay the process.

 

3. TRUMP’S PANDEMIC RESTRICTIONS

Trump implemented a series of sweeping restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic that kept some legal immigrants and travelers from entering the United States.

The measures include travel bans that block the entry of many people coming from Brazil, China, Europe and Iran in order to prevent the spread of the virus. Trump also barred entry of certain immigrants seeking permanent residence and temporary foreign workers, including certain skilled workers with H-1B visas, saying he needed to protect American jobs.

A federal judge in October blocked Trump’s temporary foreign worker ban from being applied to hundreds of thousands of businesses, a ruling the Trump administration has appealed.

While Biden has criticized some of these restrictions, he has not said if he would immediately reverse them. He has not commented on emergency border rules implemented in March that allow U.S. authorities to rapidly expel border crossers, including unaccompanied children and asylum seekers.

A Biden campaign official has stated that he would look to public health officials for guidance on pandemic-related border closures.

 

4. SKILLED FOREIGN WORKERS

The Trump administration finalized a pair of regulations in October that likely will curb U.S. companies’ use of skilled foreign workers, especially in the tech industry.

The regulations significantly increase the minimum wages companies must pay to workers enrolled in the program. The rules also narrow the definition of “specialty occupations” eligible for the visas.

Biden has not said whether he would roll back the measures if elected, but he has said in the past that  he would work with Congress to reform the H-1B visa program to ensure the visas are “aligned with the labor market and not used to undermine wages.”

After that, Biden would support expanding the number of high-skilled visas.

 

5. REFUGEES

Biden has said he would raise the annual ceiling for refugee admissions to 125,000 but has not said how quickly that would happen.

Trump has sharply curbed refugee admissions and his administration announced in September that it would allow no more than 15,000 refugees in the 2021 fiscal year, a figure Biden will likely increase.

Refugee advocates caution it may take years to rebuild the pipeline of vetted refugees ready to travel to the United States, as well as the capacity of resettlement groups to receive them.

Biden said in late October that he would “immediately” grant humanitarian protections to Venezuelans living in the United States, which would allow them to remain in the country and obtain work permits. He cited economic hardship in that country under the government of President Nicolás Maduro.

 

For further information or questions you may have  please do not hesitate to contact The Law Offices of Michael H. Markovitch.

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