Weekly Immigration News: Dismantling the Trump-era

The Biden administration has ramped up its political agenda this week, with various new policies that aim to correct Trump-era institutions.

  • After ending the Trump-era “Remain in Mexico” policy, the Biden administration announced that the United States will start letting in asylum seekers stranded in Mexico. The shift will be starting its phase 1 today along the southern border, but only migrants currently affected by the “Remain in Mexico” policy and who test negative for COVID-19 will be eligible to enter the United States. As the United States government works to amend the problems created by the policy, they will work alongside international groups and non-profits to help migrants enter the US, where they will be placed in “alternatives to detention” programs.
  • This past Tuesday, the DHS (Department of Homeland Security) started to terminate Trump-era contracts that permitted ICE officials to hinder new immigration changes from occurring. Specifically, the contract, signed by unauthorized Trump official, Ken Cuccinelli, granted AFGE National ICE Council 118 (an ICE union) members the power to “indefinitely delay” immigration changes to ICE programs, effectively giving the union “veto authority” over ICE decisions. As of now, the agreement has been “disapproved.”
  • On Thursday, the Biden administration and Congressional Democrats announced an immigration bill, the US Citizenship Act, that will significantly amend United States immigration laws and give millions of undocumented immigrants a pathway to citizenship. The Act will give green card eligibility to Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders, undocumented migrants who immigrated as children, and farmworkers, while also allowing them to apply for citizenship after three years. Any other undocumented migrant will be able to ask for work permits and temporary safety from deportation, and gain the chance to become a citizen in eight years. All those who apply will be vetted and will need to pay an application fee and file their taxes. Applicants must prove they arrived in the United States prior to January 1, 2021, except for immigrants deported during Donald Trump’s presidency. Those individuals will need to prove that they resided in the United States for a minimum of three years. The bill will also boost the number of employment visas, diversity visas, and visas for serious-crime victims, eliminate the one-year cap for asylum applications, help prevent the dealing of controlled substances at the U.S.-Mexico border, increase deportation proceeding alternatives, and allocate one billion dollars per year to help alleviate root causes of immigration in Central America.
  • The Biden White House has also instituted new guidelines, signed by ICE director Tae Johnson, regarding deportations. Under the new rules, immigration officials should concentrate on deporting those who crossed the border after October 31, 2020, and on individuals who are a threat to public safety and US national security, defined as those who are under investigation for spying or terrorism. Officials must seek approval from a supervisor for all other arrests.  
  • Additionally, the Biden Administration is planning to dramatically cut down the number of migrant families detained in ICE custody. Although the details are being finalized, and the goal is to release all immigrant families and place them in alternatives to detention programs.

Photo Credit: Daniel Arauz

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