Immigrant rights activists and those with loved ones who are immigrants to the U.S. or seeking to come here have been heartened by President-elect Joe Biden’s promise to overturn many of the controversial policies and regulations put in place over the last few years. While executive actions can be used to usher in some changes, others must be worked through the federal bureaucracy, the courts and – perhaps more problematically – negotiating with Congress.
The first changes to immigration policies you may see
Analysts with the Migration Policy Institute say that Biden will likely act quickly to reinstate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. That program protects hundreds of thousands of undocumented people who were brought to the U.S. as children.
The incoming president may also use his executive authority to overturn the so-called “Muslim ban”. That ban prevents people from specific countries (most with majority Muslim populations) from entering the U.S. He’s also made a commitment to end construction of the wall on the U.S.-Mexico border and to work to reunite hundreds of children separated from their parents as they entered the U.S. -– many of whom were seeking asylum.
Major changes to immigration policy will take time
According to immigration experts, however, the new administration will have to proceed slowly to avoid a flood of new asylum seekers. It will also require some cooperation with Mexico, where many hopeful immigrants are currently staying on the Mexican side of the border.
Bigger changes, like ending the “public charge” rule that states immigrants considered “likely” to use government benefits cannot qualify for a green card, will likely come more slowly and only through the use of a lot of negotiation. Comprehensive immigration legislation may be difficult to get through Congress. Presidents of both parties have been stymied in their efforts by the deep divisions in U.S. politics.
There’s little doubt that we’ll see some changes to immigration policy in 2021, even if they don’t live up to many people’s hopes and expectations. If you or a loved one has questions or concerns, an immigration attorney can provide valuable guidance.