Weekly Immigration News: The President’s Plan

President Biden’s plans have continuously been under fire for failing to hold up to public expectation, however, although he has yet to reach the height of his campaign promise, many of the President’s recent moves point towards improving our immigration system.

  • Although he had abandoned the number weeks ago, Joe Biden announced a 62,500 refugee cap for the rest of the current fiscal year. This number is broken down by different world regions: 4,000 from Central Asia and Europe, 5,000 from the Caribbean and Latin America, 6,000 from East Asia, 13,000 from South Asia and the Near East, and 22,000 from Africa, with 12,500 spots left “unallocated.”  However, although this is an increase from the record low of the 15,000 cap on refugees announced by the White House in February, it still falls short of Biden’s campaign promise. Moreover, although the cap is set for 62, 500 admissions, it seems unlikely that there will be 62,500 refugees admitted this fiscal year.
  • As the Biden administration works to reunite separated migrant families, the director of the task force working towards familial reunification and Alejandro Mayorkas, Homeland Security Secretary, announced that the Biden White House was working to reunite entire families. This means that it may be possible for the siblings of separated children, as well as their parents, to obtain permanent legal status in the United States, with Mayorkas stating that they are “focused on providing stability to…[families] as a unit.” Although these new developments may not be a guarantee, the probability for immediate family members to gain legal status is high.
  • In a recent court filing following a lawsuit regarding biometrics information delaying immigration processing, the USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) announced that biometrics information (such as fingerprinting) would no longer be required from the spouses of either L-1 or H-1B visa beneficiaries. This change will be placed into effect on May 17, and would still allow these spouses to apply for H-4 or L-2 derivative work visas. For more information, visit the USCIS website.
  • Similarly, the Biden administration also discarded a Trump-era proposal under which immigrants would have been required to send in further biometrics information (like voiceprints, eye scans, photos, and/or DNA samples) to guarantee ‘continuous vetting,’ of immigrants before their becoming full citizens. This move comes sometime after the Biden administration discarded other Trump-era policies, such as the newer citizenship test, the Public Charge Rule, and the use of the word ‘alien’ in government writings.
  • Following Biden’s appointment of Vice President Kamala Harris as head of the effort to reduce border migration, Harris has announced a June 7-8 Mexico and Guatemala visit. This trip abroad will be her first as vice president of the United States.
  • As the migration surge along the US-Mexico border continues, National Guard officials and Texas Rangers are being deployed instead of the US Border patrol. Local and state law enforcement claim that the federal resources currently used to process the growing amount of unaccompanied minors are causing an increase in unguarded areas at the border for both drug and human smugglers. Officials report having seized approximately 5,700 pounds of marijuana, 100 pounds of cocaine, and 1 million dollars, along with having referring around 28,000 immigrants to Border Patrol. The White House Press Secretary, Jen Psaki, responded to the criticism surrounding members of law enforcement acting as border patrol agents by stating, “Migration is a dynamic and evolving challenge[.]…The president has a plan, and we’re working on implementing it.”

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore

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