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What a New Administration Means for Immigrants and U.S. Noncitizens

| Feb 16, 2021 | Firm News

If you’ve been paying attention to current events, it’s been hard not to notice Washington, D.C.’s focus on immigration reform. In his first week in office, President Biden signed a number of executive actions relating to immigration policies. Additional President Biden made a push for Congress to tackle immigration reform by sending Congress a proposed comprehensive immigration bill.

First-Week Executive Orders on Immigration

Biden issued a handful of executive orders on Jan. 20 and 21 to reverse some of President Trump’s immigration policies. More specifically, Biden authorized:

  • The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to preserve DACA. This program, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, allowed certain noncitizens to stay and work in the U.S. for two-year periods. The program, started by President Obama, survived several legal challenges under the Trump administration. Please reference our previous blog to learn more about DACA eligibility.
  • A 100-day moratorium on deportations for some noncitizens. The aim of this executive order is to prevent the more uncontrolled spread of COVID-19.
  • A suspension of Trump’s controversial “remain in Mexico” policy. This policy required those applying for asylum to stay in Mexico while awaiting their U.S. court date. The suspension applies to future applicants; those currently waiting in Mexico must remain outside the U.S.
  • The State Department to resume processing visas from countries subject to Trump’s travel ban. This proclamation from Biden reversed many of Trump’s travel bans, including ones targeting predominantly Muslim countries.

The Larger Picture

The president, however, is limited in the changes he can make through executive actions, memos, and proclamations alone. To that end, Biden’s administration proposed a bill that would provide a pathway to citizenship for more than 10 million non-citizens living in the U.S. Should it become law in its current form, the bill would apply to more than just Dreamers.

Those eligible for DACA and certain noncitizens who were residing in the U.S. on or before Jan. 1, 2021, have the opportunity to apply for a special five-year temporary status, after which they will be able to apply for a green card. The green card is dependent on applicants’ passing a background check and paying taxes. Three years after obtaining a green card, those noncitizens will be able to apply for U.S. citizenship.

What Does All This Mean For You?

Certain non-citizens looking for a pathway to legal status, or even citizenship, in the U.S. have reasons to be cautiously optimistic about the future. For instance, while DACA is no longer under direct assault, permanent, substantial immigration reform could be a long way off. As always, immigration policies are in flux, and the legal team at Rotella & Hernandez will keep its eyes on all the latest developments.

We’re always ready to help those looking for a way to obtain a U.S. visa or otherwise legally reside in America. Our firm would be honored to sit down with you and figure out the best way to elevate you or a loved one to legal status. You may fill out a form here or call us at 305-596-3618 to set up an appointment.