New Presidency – Ready to End Cruelty and Restore Dignity to Immigrants

By: Lalitha Alladi, Esq.

All eyes will be focused on Inauguration Day. With the far right’s domestic ambush on the Capitol during the formal electoral vote count earlier this month, the country will be watching closely to see what the 46th President of the United States will do in his first few weeks.  While on the campaign trail, candidates set forth several goals. In this campaign, President-Elect Joe Biden had vowed to dismantle President Trump’s sweeping changes made to the immigration system.  In his election speech at the Democratic National Convention, he stated, “If I’m elected president, we’re going to immediately end Trump’s assault on the dignity of immigrant communities.”  He further said he will put an end to separating families, restore the asylum system, and put an end to the building of the border wall.  However, since President Trump has undertaken more than 400 executive actions in immigration, realists predict that not all of it can be undone within just four years of presidency.

Biden’s upcoming administration recognizes that dignity must be restored to immigrants even in the detention centers. At present, children have been separated from their parents, many of whom have not even been given a toothbrush or soap.  Several detainees have died due to lack of adequate care and many detention centers have turned a blind eye to necessary COVID-19 safety protocols.  The new administration recognizes that America is built on the backs of immigrants and that the immigration policy must reflect the “highest values as a nation.”

Biden’s Immigration Plan

Although Biden’s intentions are to make immediate immigration changes within the first 100 days, they may not have the desired consequences if implemented that quickly.  Some of these changes may need to take the full four-year term, if not longer.

DACA

Within his first day, he plans to provide comprehensive legislation to provide a pathway to citizenship for DREAMers who are part of the DACA Program (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). His ultimate goal is to make this program permanent since President Trump has tried to rescind this program.

Muslim Ban

Biden plans to “immediately” withdraw the Muslim Ban. This ban restricted those from some Muslim majority countries from traveling and/or immigrating to the United States.

Separating Families

Biden’s plan includes reversing the Trump Administration’s policy that separates parents from children as an intimidation tactic and will prioritize reunification.

Asylum

Biden wants to handle asylum applications efficiently and end the necessity to apply for asylum from within the foreign country as this allows, persecutors, like cartels, to continue to harm and kill those applying for asylum.  Unfortunately, the court backlog on asylum cases is so large, that even if they stopped taking more asylum cases, it would take more than four years just to adjudicate the currently pending cases!

Public Charge

Biden plans to put an end to the Public Charge Final Rule that was enforced as of February 2020 as this has been considered more of a wealth test. Instead, Biden proposes that we revert to the old guidelines whereby Form I-864, Affidavit of Support, would be sufficient and eliminate the need for Form I-944, Declaration of Self Sufficiency.

Although Biden has had to roll back on the speed at which some of these changes will occur, we are moving in the right direction whereby the Statue of Liberty may continue to greet immigrants who include the persecuted, those yearning to breathe free, or the qualified skilled workers prepared to seek the American Dream.