With nearly all of the Obama Administration’s policies and initiatives thrown into the trash and agencies like the USCIS critically underfunded, there is a long, anxious wait for President-elect Joe Biden to officially take office on January 20.
During his time in office, President Trump has transferred millions in government funds from the USCIS to enforcement, and stripped its resources to the bone, leaving only minimal staffing, relegating it as a low priority agency. Over the past four years, Trump also reduced legal immigration by some 50% and virtually brought all family and employment immigration from abroad to a standstill with his “Immigration ban”.
There’s certainly a lot to be done and extreme pressure on the new Biden Administration to get it done quickly.
Unfortunately, many positive changes in immigration, including comprehensive immigration reform require congressional action, which may not be forthcoming if the Democrats are not able to win a majority of seats in the Senate.
So, in the early days, Biden will need to issue a big pile of Executive Orders, to start the clean-up. Here’s a list of a few of the immigration priorities the administration plans to tackle first including:
– Readopt the pre-Trump mission statement of the USCIS “America’s promise as a nation of immigrants” and ensure that all policies going forward focus on encouraging and enabling immigration, rather than on enforcement. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) personnel will answer directly to President Biden.
-Re-direct enforcement funds back to USCIS to reduce processing time and put policies in place to reduce agency Requests For Evidence (RFE) for H-1B work visas and other applications to increase efficiency.
-Issue new Executive Orders to reverse all of Trump’s proclamations and Executive Orders, including the “Immigration ban”, “Muslim Ban” and others.
-Undo Trump’s restrictive immigration regulations including the Public Charge Rule, restrictions on International Student visas, child separation at the border, restrictive asylum policies, H-1B restrictions and others.
-Re-institute DACA and issue immediate protections for Dreamers.
-Issue TPS to Venezuelans.
-Streamline the naturalization process for Residents to make it faster and easier to become a U.S. Citizen.
-Work with Congress to -Modernize America’s Immigration System to create legal status and path to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. through comprehensive immigration reform.
-Work with Congress to reform temporary work visa programs for seasonal workers to make it more streamlined and less bureaucratic and provide a path to citizenship for agricultural workers.
-Work with Congress to enact a program for Startup Visas to encourage foreign-born entrepreneurs to start new businesses in the U.S. to create jobs and revitalize our economy, similar to programs in Canada, the U.K, Australia and New Zealand.
-Reduce backlogs at U.S. Consulates abroad and speed up visa processing.