After four very long years for our immigrant clients and their families, the companies who employ them, Biden represents a light at the end of a tunnel. Trump has made immigrating to or just visiting the U.S. more difficult or impossible for people from all countries, spanning the array of education and other life experiences. He’s banned entirely people from predominantly Muslim countries and turned our asylum system into one that has created refugee camps at our own borders and separated parents from their own children, without concern for reuniting them at a later time.
So as soon as Joseph Biden was elected, our clients wanted to know, “What does this mean for my case?” As always, the answer will depend on the case. At this point, we do not really know because it will depend on what actions Biden takes. Based on what he has promised and what is possible legally, we think the following is true:
- DACA is likely to be restored;
- The U.S. should again accept a greater number of refugees from around the world;
- Temporary Protected Status may be extended instead of terminated for individuals from certain countries;
- The Muslim ban should be rescinded;
- Many of the harmful policies in immigration court should be reversed, giving judges back some discretion to make decisions that are more favorable to immigrants;
- Certain restrictive policies affecting businesses and their immigrant employees are likely to be rescinded;
- The U.S. may stop defending the public charge rule in court, getting rid of the “wealth test” that has been in place since about February 2020;
- Many of the harmful asylum policies, like Remain in Mexico, should be thrown out and asylum restored to protect the most vulnerable; and
- Immigration officers will likely be encouraged again to use discretion in immigration enforcement, meaning we should see approvals in humanitarian cases and less people with immigration relief available forced to await decisions on cases like U visas from abroad.
This is only a short list and again, we will have to see what President-elect Biden does as President. The long-awaited comprehensive immigration reform may remain elusive if our Congressmen and women do not start working together. Trump will remain in office for about three more months, and he may try to implement additional policies to restrict immigration further before his time is up.
Still, we see a light at the end of a tunnel as President-Elect Biden is widely expected to recognize the great contributions and value of immigrants in our nation and implement policies that are consistent with that world view.