President Biden announces executive actions and immigration reform plan

Hours before his inauguration as President of the United States, Joseph R. Biden Jr. announced a series of executive orders and an immigration reform proposal that he will send to Congress.

Below is a summary of President Biden's executive actions and immigration reform plan announced today.

President Biden's Executive Actions

These are the executive actions President Biden will take today:

  • He will sign a Presidential Memorandum to Preserve and Strengthen DACA, directing the Secretary of Homeland Security to take appropriate action, under the law, to protect more than 700,000 young people brought to the United States as children who applied for the DACA reliefThe Presidential Memorandum will also call on Congress to enact legislation granting permanent status and a path to citizenship for DACA recipients. The Presidential Memorandum will also call on Congress to enact legislation granting permanent status and a path to citizenship for DACA recipients.
  • He will sign a executive order to revoke former President Trump's executive order that directed a harsh and extreme immigration enforcement.
  • It will issue a proclamation putting an immediate end to to the declaration of a national emergency to justify the diversion of funds for the border fenceused by the Trump Administration. The proclamation orders an immediate pause on wall construction projects to allow for a review into the legality of the funding and contracting methods used, and to determine how best to redirect funds diverted to finance wall construction.
  • He will sign a executive order to revoke the Trump Administration's orders to exclude non-citizens from the census. and the distribution of congressional representatives. Biden will ensure that the Census Bureau has time to complete an accurate population count for each state.
  • He will sign a presidential memorandum to extend the Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) designation for Liberians who have been in the United States for many years until June 30, 2022.
  • He will sign a Executive Action ending the ban on entry into the United States of mainly Muslim and African countriesand instructs the State Department to restart visa processing for affected countries. The Executive Action also provides for the strengthening of traveler background checks through enhanced information sharing with foreign governments.

President Biden's immigration reform plan

According to the Biden administration, the immigration reform bill, entitled "The U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021," aims to modernize the immigration system and prioritizes keeping families together, growing the economy, protecting and responsibly managing the border with smart investments, addressing the root causes of migration from Central America, and ensuring that the United States remains a haven for those fleeing persecution.

The bill creates a pathway to citizenship for immigrants, including Dreamers, currently protected by DACA, people in the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program and essential workers.

The U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 has three pillars - Pathway to Citizenship and Labor Protections, Prioritizing Border Controls, and Addressing the Causes of Immigration, with the following components:

Citizenship Pathway and Labor Protections

1. Create a pathway to citizenship for the undocumented.

The bill allows undocumented immigrants to apply for temporary legal status, with the possibility of applying for green cards after five years if they pass criminal and national security background checks and pay their taxes.

  • The dreamers (covered by DACA), TPS beneficiariesThe immigrant farm workers who meet specific requirements would be eligible for green cards immediately.
  • After three years, individuals with green cards, who pass additional background checks and demonstrate knowledge of English and U.S. civics, may apply for citizenship.
  • Applicants must be physically present in the United States on or before January 1, 2021.
  • The Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) may remove the presence in the country requirement for individuals deported on or after January 20, 2017 who have been physically present for at least three years prior to removal for family unity and other humanitarian purposes.
  • It will change the use of the word "alien" to "noncitizen" in immigration law.

2. Keeping families together.

The bill reforms the family-based immigration system by eliminating backlogs, recovering unused visas, eliminating long wait times and increasing visa limits per country.

  • Eliminates the so-called "3-year and 10-year bans", known as "3-year and 10-year bans". "the law of punishment"which prohibits people who lived in the United States illegally from returning to the country for 3 or 10 years, in addition to other provisions that keep immigrant families separated.
  • Supports inclusion of life partners and eliminating discrimination against LGBTQ+ families.
  • It offers protection to Filipino orphans, widows, children and veterans who fought alongside the United States in World War II.
  • Allows immigrants with approved family-based petitions to join their families in the United States on a temporary basis while waiting for a green card to be granted.

3. Incorporate diversity.

Prohibits discrimination based on religion and limits presidential authority to issue future prohibitions.

  • Increases the number of diversity visas to 80,000 from 55,000. These are the number of visas designated for the "visa lottery".

4. Promotes the integration and citizenship of immigrants and refugees.

The bill provides new funding to expand programs that increase English language instruction and provide assistance to individuals seeking to become citizens.

5. Promote the economy.

  • Eliminates backlogs in obtaining employment-based visas. Retrieves unused visas. Reduces waiting times and eliminates visa limits per country.
  • Facilitates the stay in the United States for graduates of U.S. universities with advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
  • Improved access to green cards for workers in lower-wage sectors.
  • Removes unnecessary obstacles to employment-based green cards.
  • Provides dependents of H-1B visa holders with work authorization.
  • It prevents children from "aging out" of the system. That is, they do not qualify for a visa as a dependent if they reach 21 years of age before the visa holder's petition is approved.
  • Creates a pilot program to stimulate regional economic development.
  • Gives DHS the authority to adjust green cards based on macroeconomic conditions.
  • Incentivizes wage increases for nonimmigrant visas and high-skilled workers to avoid unfair competition with U.S. workers.

6. Protects workers from being exploited and improves the employment verification process.

  • Requires DHS and the Department of Labor to establish a commission involving labor and civil rights organizations to make recommendations on how to improve the employment verification process.
  • Workers who suffer serious labor violations and cooperate with worker protection agencies will have greater access to U visa relief.
  • Protects employees who are victims of workplace retaliation from deportation by allowing labor agencies to interview these workers.
  • Protects migrant and seasonal workers.
  • Increases penalties for employers who violate labor laws.

Prioritizing Border Controls

1. Complement existing border resources with technology and infrastructure.

  • Authorize additional funds for the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security to develop and implement a plan to deploy technology to expedite detection and improve the ability to identify drugs and other contraband at all land, air, and sea ports of entry.
  • This includes high-throughput scanning technologies for all commercial and passenger vehicles and freight rail traffic entering the United States through land ports of entry and rail border crossings along the border.
  • Authorizes and funds plans to improve port of entry infrastructure to increase capacity to process asylum seekers and to detect, interdict, disrupt, and prevent drugs from entering the United States.
  • Authorizes the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security to develop and implement a strategy for managing and securing the southern border between ports of entry that focuses on flexible solutions and technologies that expand the ability to detect illicit activity, assess the effectiveness of border security operations, and be easily redeployed and dismantled by the border patrol sector.
  • To protect privacy, the DHS Inspector General is authorized to conduct oversight to ensure that the technology employed effectively serves legitimate agency purposes.

2. Manage the border and protect border communities.

  • Provides funding for training and continuing education to promote safety and professionalism of agents and officers.
  • Creates a Border Community Stakeholder Advisory Committee, provides more special agents in the DHS Office of Professional Responsibility to investigate criminal and administrative misconduct, and requires the issuance of department-wide policies governing the use of force.
  • Directs the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to study the impact of DHS's authority to waive environmental, state, and federal laws to expedite the construction of barriers and roads near U.S. borders and provides for additional rescue beacons to prevent unnecessary deaths along the border.
  • Authorizes and provides funding for DHS, in coordination with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and non-governmental experts, to develop guidelines and protocols for standards of care for individuals, families, and children in CBP custody.

3. Crack down on criminal organizations.

  • Increases the ability to prosecute individuals involved in smuggling and trafficking networks responsible for the exploitation of migrants.
  • Expanded investigations, intelligence gathering and analysis to increase sanctions against foreign drug traffickers, their organizations and networks.
  • It calls for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Department of Homeland Security, in coordination with the Secretary of State, to enhance and expand transnational anti-gang task forces in Central America.

Addressing the Root Causes of Immigration

1. Start with the source.

  • Codifies and funds the President's $4 billion interagency plan to address the underlying causes of migration in the region. Among other things, increases assistance to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, provided they can reduce the endemic corruption, violence and poverty that cause people to flee their home countries.
  • Creates safe and legal channels for people to seek protection, including establishing designated processing centers throughout Central America to register and process displaced persons for refugee resettlement and other legal migration pathways, whether to the United States or other partner countries.
  • Re-institutes the Central American Minors program to reunite children with U.S. relatives and creates a Central American Family Reunification Parole Program to more quickly unite families with approved family sponsorship petitions.

2. Improves immigration courts and protects vulnerable individuals.

  • Expands family case management programs, reduces immigration court backlogs, expands training for immigration judges, and improves immigration court technology.
  • It restores fairness and balance to the immigration system by providing judges and adjudicators with the discretion to review cases and grant relief to deserving individuals.
  • Authorizes funding for legal guidance and counseling programs for children, vulnerable persons and others when necessary to ensure the fair and efficient resolution of their claims.
  • It provides for the funding of school districts that educate unaccompanied children, while clarifying the responsibilities of sponsors of such children.

3. Support asylum seekers and other vulnerable populations.

  • It eliminates the one-year deadline for filing asylum applications and provides funding to reduce the backlog of asylum applications.
  • Increases protections for U, T and VAWA visa applicants, including increasing the U visa cap from 10,000 to 30,000.
  • Extends protections for foreign nationals assisting U.S. troops.

Avoid becoming a victim of immigration fraud

President Biden's immigration reform plan is a proposal and does not have the effect of law.

Be very careful with unscrupulous people who make you believe that President Biden's immigration plan can already provide you with some immigration benefit. Do not pay money to anyone for something that does not exist.

Even if comprehensive immigration reform is enacted, it is likely that many undocumented immigrants will not qualify for these programs.

All immigrants should seek legal advice to evaluate their immigration options. In the United States, only licensed immigration attorneys or non-profit organizations with federally accredited legal representatives can give you legal advice and help you with your immigration paperwork.

Never seek immigration legal advice from notaries, immigration consultants, paper fillers and multiservices.