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Brief # 124 – Immigration Policy 

Biden Administration Announces Intent to Expand US Immigration System

By Kathryn Baron

 

June 3, 2021

Policy Summary

Recently, the Biden Administration announced its intent to expand the existing American immigration system. The administration’s goal is to  reverse anti-immigration efforts from the Trump Administration that led to lower levels of foreign workers, families and refugees, and numerous procedural hurdles.

Biden seeks to allow more foreigners to move to the US, particularly high-skilled workers, victims of human trafficking, refugees and asylum seekers, farm workers, American Indians living in Canada, and families of Americans living abroad. He seeks to address the backlogs in the immigration system by expanding virtual interview and electronic filing capacities and restoring operations for foreign employers through H-1B visas (intended for special and high-skilled workers). Biden also intends to start a new citizenship program for  individuals and foreign entrepreneurs who wish to start businesses and/or create jobs for American workers. 

Additionally the administration intends to reboot the program (U-visas) that provides pathways to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who help law enforcement by cooperating with policy and testifying in court when necessary. US immigration officials are working on regulations that would allow migrants to seek asylum if they are victims of domestic violence and/or have relatives who were persecuted. During the Trump Administration, Attorney General Barr attempted to end protections for these individuals. 

Lastly, the Biden Administration hopes to expand immigration opportunities for individuals who identify as LGBTQ+, especially LGBTQ+ refugees hailing from countries where same-sex marriage is banned and/or members of the LGBTQ+ are often persecuted and oppressed. 

Analysis

Under Trump, the average time to approve an employer-sponsored green card doubled, there is an 80% backlog on applications dating back to 2014 (now hovering around 900,000 cases), and the average approval time for U-visa programs has gone from five months to five years. Conservative activists and policymakers vow to stop Biden’s plans to expand the US immigration system, as it would reverse their previous efforts to lower levels of immigration. 

Engagement Resources

  • The National Immigration Law Center: an organization that exclusively dedicates itself to defending and furthering the rights of low income immigrants and strives to educate decision makers on the impacts and effects of their policies on this overlooked part of the population.
  • The ACLU: a non-profit with a longstanding commitment to preserving and protecting the individual rights and liberties the Constitution and US laws guarantee all its citizens. You can also donate monthly to counter Trump’s attacks on people’s rights. Recently, the ACLU has filed a lawsuit challenging the separation of families at the border.
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