Biden Administration Moves Swiftly Forward on Immigration Reform

On his first day in office, President Joe Biden unveiled his comprehensive immigration reform bill. The expansive plan contains a pathway to citizenship for over 11 million immigrants present in the U.S. with no legal immigration status.

Significant Provisions of Biden’s Immigration Reform Plan

Under Biden’s plan, immigrants could receive a temporary status that would last five years. Individuals also could apply for a green card during that time so long as they meet specific requirements, such as paying taxes and passing a background check. The plan also provides a shortened pathway to citizenship for recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and agricultural workers. The Biden administration has not yet released the text of the planned legislation.

Biden has put together a team of seven Congresswomen to shepherd the bill through Congress. Many of these group members represent large migrant communities; the group includes representatives from the Congressional Black, Hispanic, and Asian Pacific American Caucuses. If passed, the bill would be the first piece of comprehensive immigration legislation in 30 years.

Pending Immigration Reform Legislation

These lawmakers also intend to try and push through some legislation that already has cleared the House of Representatives. One of these bills is the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, which creates a path to legalization for agricultural workers and reforms the H-2A visa process, the existing visa program for farmworkers. Likewise, the No Ban Act would prohibit U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officials from discriminating against visa applicants based on their religions. The Act also would revoke the travel ban for natives of some countries that the former administration had put into place.

Biden Repeals Immigration Executive Orders and Changes Policies

President Biden has also signed various executive orders that roll back some of the more controversial Trump executive orders. These executive orders address issues such as the travel ban from Muslim countries, further local and federal collaboration on immigration enforcement, and the ability to deport any immigration with no legal status. The acting Department of Homeland Security (DHS) secretary issued a memo requesting a 100-day moratorium on deportations to review existing immigration enforcement policies. The moratorium contained exceptions for immigrants who entered the country after November 1, 2020, voluntary deportees, and those who were dangers to national security or were subject to automatic removal. DHS then issued interim enforcement priorities, similar to those used during the Obama administration, such as prioritizing the deportation of immigrants who pose significant safety risks.

Texas Sues Over Deportation Moratorium

As the moratorium went into effect on January 22, 2021, however, the state of Texas filed suit against the federal government in protest of the moratorium. The state claimed that agreements signed with the Trump Administration require the federal government to give six months’ notice and consult states before making any significant immigration changes.

A Texas court granted the state’s request for a 14-day suspension of the moratorium, although not on the legal grounds that Texas argued. The ruling is somewhat legally suspect, as deportations by law are the discretionary function of the federal government’s executive branch. Furthermore, as DHS policies continue to change as new officials review and revise them, those policies could act as a type of moratorium on deportation. For instance, recent guidance to field officers in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) advised them to seek permission before detaining any immigration who falls outside the administration’s newly-defined deportation priorities.

Contact Bashyam Global Immigration Law Group Today

The attorneys at Bashyam Global Immigration Law Group offer comprehensive legal representation in all types of immigration law matters, including family-based immigration and deportation defense. By limiting our services to immigration law, we can stay ahead of the rapidly-evolving legal and policy changes to offer timely information and strategies for the clients we represent. Call our offices at 919-833-0840 and learn more about how we can help you with your immigration law matter.

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