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President Biden Issues New Executive Orders and Proposes New Immigration Legislation

Immediately upon taking office as the new President, Joe Biden issued several immigration-related Executive Orders and proposed a sweeping legislative change to existing immigration law. These changes must be passed by Congress so it important to everyone to contact their Congressional representatives to press for approval of the proposed immigration bill.

The American Immigration Lawyers Association has prepared a summary of the Executive Orders and the proposed legislation.  Please remember the proposed immigration bill must be passed by Congress so there is a very real chance part or all of the legislation will not become law.

 AILA Doc. No. 21012531 | Dated January 23, 2021 

As this first week with a new president comes to a close, there is much for our community to be excited about. On his first day, President Biden proposed bold new legislation and changes to our immigration system and reversed some of the most devastating policies of the last four years. A new era has begun, and our collective voice is already getting heard and translated into action.

To help you keep track of all the new immigration policy changes, we have created a comprehensive resource on the First 100 Days of the Biden Administration. Many devastating regulations remain in effect, and we expect more announcements in the coming months. Use AILA’s dedicated page to track the status of Trump administration policies.

AILA’s comprehensive recommendations to the president on immigration reform are set forth in our Vision for America as a Welcoming Nation. AILA will be advocating for the Biden administration to implement these reforms to America’s immigration system—and more.

Below, we provide a summary of what’s happened thus far.

The Biden administration has announced the following policy changes by Executive Order:

  • Revocation of the Muslim and African travel bans.
  • 100-day pause on deportations and rescission of the February 2017 Trump order announcing all-out enforcement without any prioritization (temporarily blocked by Court Order)
  • Declaration of the end of the “national emergency” at the southern border
  • Halt in border wall construction
  • Preservation of and plans to “fortify” the DACA initiative
  • Suspension of new enrollments in the Migrant Protection Protocols program
  • Extension of Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) for Liberians for 18 months
  • Halt of President Trump’s plan to exclude noncitizens from the census and apportionment of congressional representatives.
  • Review of any pending regulatory actions for possible withdrawal and delay of effective dates of regulations that were published but have not yet taken effect.

President Biden has sent an immigration bill to Congress that Senator Menendez (D-NJ) and Congresswoman Sánchez (D-CA) will sponsor. Here are key provisions of the bill:

  • Legalization and path to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants
    • Dreamers, TPS recipients, and farmworkers will qualify for green cards immediately and can apply for citizenship after three years.
    • All other unauthorized immigrants will receive a conditional status, including employment authorization, for five years, following which they can apply for citizenship after another three years, assuming they qualify.
  • Reforms to the family-based immigration system, including:
    • Steps to clear backlogs, reduce wait times, and recapture lost visas
    • Elimination of the 3- and 10-year unlawful presence bars
    • Inclusion of spouses and children of lawful permanent residents as immediate family members not subject to the cap
    • Increase of the per-country limits for family-based immigrants
  • Reforms to the employment-based immigration system, including:
    • Provisions to clear backlogs, reduce wait times, and recapture lost visas
    • Elimination of the per-country limits for employment-based immigrants
    • Provision of employment authorization for dependents of H-1B holders and protection to prevent children of H-1B holders from aging out
    • Improvements for STEM advanced degree holders from U.S. universities to stay in the United States
    • Improved access to green cards for workers in lower-wage industries
    • Authorization for DHS to adjust visa numbers based on macroeconomic conditions
  • Diversity Visa Program will be increased to 80,000 visas per year (from 55,000)
  • Reforms to the immigration courts, including steps to reduce backlogs and restoration of judicial discretion to grant relief
  • Expansion of legal representation and legal orientation programs
  • Improvements to asylum, U visa, T visa and VAWA humanitarian programs, including elimination of the 1-year asylum filing deadline and increase of the U visa cap to 30,000 visas
  • Prohibition against future discriminatory bans such as the Muslim and African travel bans
  • Reforms to manage the border and ports of entry including increased accountability measures and increased resources, technology, and infrastructure
  • Programs and funding to address the root causes of migration from Central America
  • Protection for workers from exploitation
  • Improvements to the E-Verify employment verification system
  • Funding for immigrant integration initiatives at the state, local and community level

David Swaim 
Managing Partner- Dallas, TX
David Swaim & Associates