President Joe Biden’s immigration plan may roll back some of the reforms implemented during the Trump administration. His plan focuses on three pillars of reforming the legal immigration system to restore America’s values as a nation of immigrants.
Biden’s immigration plan aims to address the root causes of immigration problems, keep families together, and streamline the immigration system.
In this article, we shall discuss the Biden immigration plan and the steps that his administration has so far taken towards making the immigration reforms.
Revised Pathway To Citizenship
The first legislation sent to Congress was to create a path to citizenship for at least 11 million undocumented immigrants who were initially denied this opportunity during Trump’s administration. The Biden administration aims at taking action against the harsh immigration policies that the Donald Trump administration had effected during his term.
The Pathway To Citizenship Plan
About 11 million undocumented immigrants live in America without proper legal status. The new eight-year pathway to citizenship plan makes it possible for these immigrants to pursue U.S. citizenship. Through the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 that outlines the pathway to citizenship program, the Biden administration plans to do the following:
Citizenship For Undocumented People
The new bill gives a chance to undocumented immigrants to apply for temporary legal status. If the applicants pass the criminal background checks and national security checks and dutifully pay their taxes, they may apply for a green card after five years. The new bill also makes it possible for Temporary Permanent Status TPS, Dreamers, and immigrant farmworkers with specific eligibility requirements to apply for green cards with immediate effect.
The new bill caters for the 11 million undocumented immigrants who live in the US and contribute to the growth of the American economy.
All green card holders can apply for citizenship through nationalization after three years, including taking the English Proficiency Test and the Civics test, and must be physically present in the US by January 1, 2016. The Department of Homeland Security may exempt the physical presence requirement to those immigrants who were deported on or after January 17, 2017, and had lived in the U.S. for at least three years. This waiver is meant to help families reunite with their immigrant family members.
Biden White House also scraped off Trump’s reforms on the civics test and restored the old 2008 civics test to be effected from March 1, 2021.
In addition to boosting the American spirit as a country of immigrants, President Biden ordered that the immigration system laws replace the word ‘alien’ with ‘noncitizens.’
Reuniting Families And Keeping Them Together
Biden’s immigration reforms aim to reduce the unnecessary waiting time for processing documentation for foreigners to join their families in the United States. The proposed reform includes scraping off the 3 years and 10 years bars that the previous government had imposed on some immigrant applicants.
The new immigration bill is also purposed to clear immigration application backlogs and increase visa caps for countries. The revised bill also commits to caring for widows, children, orphans, and Filipino war veterans engaged in World War II under the US camp.
All family unions are recognized under the bill, including LGBTQ families. Immigrants with approved family-based green card applications will be allowed to travel to the US on temporary status as they await their green cards. This is another step in reuniting families and reducing the waiting time required before immigrants receive permission to travel to the US to be with their families.
The White House No Ban Act
President Joe Biden reverted Trump’s administration Act that imposed travel bans and other restrictions based on religion by effecting the ‘No Ban’ Act that prohibits such discriminations by setting limitations to future Presidents from issuing such bans. Diversity visas were also increased by 25,000 from the previously halved 55,000.
U.S. Citizenship For Immigrants And Refugees
Immigrants and refugees seeking U.S. citizenship will benefit from programs that promote integration and diversity inclusion, English language tutoring, and immigration processes. Biden’s immigration plan will increase funding to local governments and not-for-profit organizations to make this arrangement possible.
The proposed bill sought to reduce work visa backlogs and reduce the waiting time for the visas to grow the economy. It also recaptured unused visas and removed the country visa caps that restricted travel to the U.S. on employment-based visas.
Border Controls And Protection
This is another one of Biden’s ideologies of the modernized immigration system. The bill has the following implementations to make:
President Joe Biden plans to improve the technology used at the port of entry to help the DHS and the Customs and Border Protection agents detect narcotic drugs and any other contrabands smuggled into the country.
The bill, which has the support of most House Democrats, advocates more funding for improved technology at the port of entries. The enhanced technology also aims at improving the process of assessing asylum seekers. The DHS is also tasked with creating a comprehensive technology-based blueprint to help them secure the southern border.
Border Management And Border Communities Protection
The immigration reform also captures the need to educate and train the border immigration agents and officials on professionalism to improve the way they handle border communities. The training will investigate criminal and administrative misconducts and change some policies to help protect the border communities, including DHS and CBP agents.
Investigating Criminal Organizations
As part of investigating the root causes of migration, the immigration reform digs deeper into criminal networks that are perpetrators of smuggling and trafficking networks that use migrants as tools of the trade.
The bill, backed by House Democrats, encourages the Drug Enforcement Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigations, and the DHS to enact the Narcotics Kingpin Act’s laws on foreign drug dealers.
Root Causes Of Migration
Another commitment of Biden’s administration is on addressing the root causes of migration from the Central American countries, namely Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. According to the plan, the efforts to clear the problem are outlined as follows:
Support For The Central American Countries
President Joe Biden’s immigration reform seeks to find answers to the problem of migration from Central American countries. The White House plan seeks to increase support to Central America to address the underlying issues in those countries that cause their nationals to seek better lives in the United States.
These problems include corruption, violence, and poverty. The four-year inter-agency plan will cost $4 billion in funding to help support the Central American countries.
The Inter-agency plan also creates legal channels within the countries where migrants can seek help if they need to seek asylum or refuge in the US or any other partner countries through lawful avenues. The bill also revived the Central American Minors Program that helps children to reunite with their families in the U.S.
Immigration Courts Improvements
Another immigration reform seeks to reduce the backlogs on family-based immigration cases, hasten the process by training immigration case judges and enhance the technology that will improve the time and efficacy of handling the cases.
When necessary, children and vulnerable individuals will also benefit from government-funded orientation programs that help them receive fair resolutions on their claims. Unaccompanied children will also benefit from education programs that the government funds in the district schools.
Support For Asylum Seekers
The immigration reform scraps off the one-year deadline for applications for asylum claims. The bill also allocates funding to the DHS to reduce the backlog on such claims and applications. More protection has been offered under the following visas:
- U Visa- This visa is for crime victims asylum seekers who have suffered mental or physical abuse while in the U.S.
- T Visa- This visa allows certain victims of crime and trafficking to live and work in the United States.
- VAWA applicants
- Foreign nationals assisting US troops
The bill also seeks to end Trump’s administration’s asylum policies that separated children from their parents. The Joe Biden White House immigration reform will terminate with Former President Trump’s Migrant Protection Protocols that required migrants to undergo a lengthy verification process before being granted asylum. The plan seeks to restore the asylum laws to allow people fleeing from their home countries to get protection in the US.
Changes To The Immigration System Under President Biden So Far
President Biden’s pledge to reform the immigration system and restore America’s values took effect on his very first day at the White House when he sent to Congress the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021. The Act has a road map that outlines all the immigration reforms that Biden and his administration plan to take.
He has also reverted several of Trump’s immigration policies during his first few days in office. For example, he terminated Trump’s diversity visa ban that stopped applicants from seeking green cards to live and work permanently in the U.S. The president argued that the ban did not promote America’s interest and denied people the right to be with their families.
Another notable reform was creating a task force that aided the process of reuniting children with their families who had been torn apart between 2017 and 2018 during Trump’s implementation of the border policies.
Headways have been made towards tracing these families and reuniting them. President Joe Biden also paused the building of the Mexican wall that was started during Trump’s era. Instead, his administration advocates for improved security through technology at the ports of entry into the United States.
The president also ended cooperative agreements with Mexico and Guatemala, requiring asylum seekers traveling through those countries to seek asylum with them under the third-party agreement. The executive order has also sought to restore asylum processing at the border after policy revisions and directions from the Health and Human Services, U.S. Center of Disease Control and Prevention, in conjunction with the DHS. These are efforts to ensure that the asylum processing does not pose any health dangers pertaining to the current Coronavirus pandemic.
Biden also ordered the revision of the public charge rule and other immigration policies to restore the trust in the immigration process and integrate immigrants into the country. The pubic charge rule barred immigrants from accessing some federal benefits, such as health services.
It also declared an immigrant a public charge if they sought such services within the first five years. The executive order requires that the Secretaries of State, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Attorney General review the policies that bar immigrants from benefiting from their green cards.
On January 20, 2021, President Biden signed a memorandum that directed the Department of Homeland Security to preserve the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The Biden administration intends to revive the program that Trump’s administration initially winded up. The program is expected to run until the legislators approve a law that allows undocumented immigrants to attain permanent legal status in the US.
Read more: Donald Trump Immigration Plan