NEW IMMIGRATION REFORMS OFFERED
On the morning of his inauguration, President Joe Biden proposed bold new and changes to our immigration system and reversed some of the most devastating policies of the last four years.
The proposed legislation is part of his administration’s effort for immigration reform. It remains to be seen if the proposals will turn into actual law, but hopes are high.
The legislation, titled the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021, is a comprehensive immigration legislation proposal that would improve paths to citizenship, family-based immigration, and employment-based immigration. Specifically, the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 targets three areas: (1) Provide pathways to citizenship and strengthen labor protections; (2) Prioritize smart border controls; and (3) Address root causes of migration.
First, the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 proposes to provide a pathway to citizenship for undocumented individuals, along with significantly reducing the amount of time required to become a citizen for such individuals. This will allow applicants such as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients, Temporary protected status (TPS) holders, and immigrant farmworkers to immediately apply for green cards and after three years, apply to become U.S. citizens so long as the applicant satisfies background checks and demonstrates knowledge of English and U.S. civics. The bill also introduces a system to clear family- and employment-based immigration backlogs and increasing per-country visa numbers. The bill also provides dependents of H-1B visa holders work authorization, and notably, provisions to provide that children would not “age out” of the immigration system. Furthermore, it also proposes to eliminate the commonly-referred “3- and 10-year bars,” which bars individuals from re-entering the United States after having accrued a certain amount of unlawful presence.
The bill strives to improve the employment verification process and protections for workers who are victims of workplace retaliation from deportation, through a new process whereby labor agencies may interview these workers.
Second, President Biden will take a different approach from the Trump administration on border wall enforcement by instead investing in technology at the border to “expedite screening and enhance the ability to identify narcotics and other contraband” found at the port of entry. The bill also provides funding for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, alongside the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, to advance guidelines for standards of care for individuals and families in U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) custody.
Finally, the legislation will reduce immigration court backlogs, as well as provide expanded training for immigration judges and improve existing technology in the immigration court system. Additionally, the bill eliminates the one-year deadline for filing asylum claims, provides funding to reduce asylum application backlogs, and increases protection and visa numbers for U visas, T visas, and VAWA applicants.
Among the most immediate changes are revocation of the so called “Muslim and African Travel bans”; a 100-day pause on deportations and rescission of the February 2017 Trump order announcing all-out enforcement without any prioritization; halt in border wall construction; reservation of and plans to “fortify” the DACA initiative. Immigration will receive a lot of attention in the coming weeks and months. We will continue to monitor and provide updates to our readers on a regular basis.
Dilip Patel of Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney PC, a board-certified expert on immigration law, can be reached at (813) 222-1120 or email firstname.lastname@example.org