Immigration Policies Continue to be in Flux as Biden Administration Systematically Removes Trump Administration Policy Changes
The Biden administration has taken quick action during its first few months to reverse, remove, and replace various Trump administration policies that impact various immigration law matters. The following is a summary of some of the most important policy changes that have occurred so far:
- The Trump administration had severely limited legal immigration by banning the issuance of most visas until the end of March 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the Biden administration has allowed the ban to expire and is again allowing legal immigration to occur. The ban had prevented the issuance of most family-based preference visas, which has only added to the existing backlog of visa applications.
- The Biden administration has mandated a review of the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), under which the Trump administration required 65,000 asylum seekers to remain in Mexico while awaiting their court hearings. Pending this review, the administration has ceased adding any further individuals to the program and has abandoned the previous administration’s stance on protecting the policy from court challenges. However, it has not yet addressed the fate of those already sent back to Mexico under the MPP.
- Although the Biden administration has continued to use Title 42, as issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC), to turn away most migrants as they arrive at the border to avoid spreading COVID-19. However, the Biden administration is accepting unaccompanied migrant children who arrive at the border, which is a significant change from the previous administration’s use of Title 42.
- The Biden administration has extended Temporary Protection Status (TPS) to Venezuelan and Burmese immigrants, which allows those individuals to remain living and working in the U.S. for a limited period. TPS for Venezuelans will remain in place until September 9, 2022.
- The Department of Labor (DOL) issued a wage rule in 2020 that would have replaced the H-1B visa lottery system with a wage-based system that would prioritize higher-paying positions. In response to the proposed regulation, which was scheduled to go into effect in March 2021, the Biden administration has now delayed implementing the rule until December 31, 2021.
- The Trump administration published a final rule that would drastically change the prevailing wage computation for certain employment-based visas. The Biden administration has extended the implementation of that rule until May 14, 2021.
- In part, President Biden issued an executive order that revokes a memorandum previously issued by the former president that would have required individuals who sponsor immigrants to repay any public benefits that the immigrants might receive. This move was a first step toward eliminating the “public charge” rule, which can be invalidated only by court order or the lengthy formal rulemaking process. The Biden administration also has initiated the rescission process for this rule by ordering the relevant agencies to review all agency actions related to this ground of inadmissibility and deportability. It has also withdrawn the previous administration’s judicial challenges to the public charge rule pending before the U.S. Supreme Court.
- U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has abandoned the dubious Trump-era practice of categorically rejecting asylum applications containing blank spaces, even those in which the information requested did not apply to the applicants.
- The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) withdrew a proposed rule that would have required verification of eligible immigration status of all individuals under the age of 62 receiving assistance under HUD’s public housing programs. This change protects mixed-status families who otherwise would have to either expel the family member with no legal immigration status or forego public and subsidized housing access.
- President Biden issued an executive order restoring the refugee admissions program by rescinding policies that the previous administration had issued to significantly limit refugee resettlement and require excessive vetting of program participants.
Although the Biden administration has taken steps to begin dismantling the restrictive immigration policies and regulations put into place over the past four years, much work remains. We hope that the Biden administration will continue to move toward rebuilding an effective immigration system that is no longer plagued by delays, backlogs, and inefficiencies.
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