The moment President Biden took office, there was a sense of change in the air. For many, he brought hope to move past the previous administration – and put forward new proposals on the issues that matter most.
This optimism is largely captured by the immigration proposals the Biden-Harris administration has introduced. For example, when President Biden signed the immigration executive order, the bust of union leader Cesar Chavez could be seen behind him. This gives us faith that this administration is serious and can deliver for the immigrant community.
Here are the main points of the Biden executive order on immigration.
Immediate priorities of the Biden-Harris administration
In addition to the Biden executive order on immigration, the new presidential administration published a list of immediate priorities. These include proposals to "advance racial equity and civil rights, as well as immediate actions to reform our immigration system,” among other priorities.
In particular, President Biden’s stance on immigration is noteworthy. Not only does the Biden executive order on immigration propose key changes, but his published priorities also make them clear:
“President Biden will reform our long-broken and chaotic immigration system. President Biden’s strategy is centered on the basic premise that our country is safer, stronger, and more prosperous with a fair and orderly immigration system that welcomes immigrants, keeps families together, and allows people across the country—both newly arrived immigrants and people who have lived here for generations—to more fully contribute to our country.”
We couldn't agree more with President Biden! Fortunately, we’re already seeing change. With the Biden executive order on immigration, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced the suspension of its Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) Program on January 20, 2021.
Key proposals in the Biden executive order on immigration
The U.S. government grants the president a power called the Executive Order. This allows the president to propose laws that go into effect immediately without needing to be passed by Congress.
Upon taking office, President Biden implemented 17 executive orders, including the Biden executive order on immigration. Below, we’ll highlight proposals of special relevance and importance to our community:
- DACA: Finally! The Biden executive order on immigration proposes signing a Presidential Memorandum to continue the program that protects DREAMers. In addition, current DACA beneficiaries may be able to receive citizenship more quickly.
- The wall: While the previous administration wanted Mexico to pay for a border wall, the Biden executive order on immigration proposes to stop this project. The idea is to evaluate whether it’s best to continue funding it or redirect those funds to other programs.
- Police control: In the Biden executive order on immigration, President Biden rescinds Trump's immigration orders, which led to cruel and harsh immigration policies.
- The census: During the previous administration, undocumented immigrants were excluded from the census. The Biden executive order on immigration reinstates them. This is important because the census determines the number of representatives per geographic area. If undocumented communities aren’t counted, their areas will receive fewer delegates. This means less representation and more difficulty making changes important to these communities. Bottom line: our communities deserve fair representation!
The Biden immigration proposal accelerates the path to citizenship
It’s estimated that 11 million undocumented immigrants live in the U.S. With the Biden executive order on immigration, some immigrants would be eligible for permanent residency after five years and U.S. citizenship after another 3 years. Compared to previous plans, the Biden immigration proposal presents a faster timeline.
That's just the start. Some groups could experience even faster timelines, which we’ll go over below. This includes a pathway that would grant Permanent Residency and citizenship in as little as 3 years.
Make DACA permanent
Hundreds of thousands of our DREAMers have received support from the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The vast majority were brought to the U.S. as children. The Biden executive order on immigration proposes a faster path to citizenship for these people. This would potentially allow them to receive Permanent Resident Cards immediately, although the details aren’t yet certain. On the other hand, the Biden immigration proposal recommends that DACA become a permanent program – so these families would never again fear its cancellation!
Create protected status for essential workers
Despite facing COVID-19 at high levels, essential workers showed the resilience and adversity that characterizes immigrants. In fact, many of these essential workers are immigrants who work in supermarkets, harvest fields, provide health care, etc. The Biden-Harris administration recognizes the heroic efforts of essential workers and proposes reducing their wait time for citizenship. With this goal in mind, the Biden immigration proposal offers automatic Permanent Resident Cards to undocumented immigrants with protected status. In addition, the Biden executive order on immigration would add more immigration judges to reduce the current system bottlenecks resulting from a high demand in immigration petitions and a low supply of immigration judges.
Streamline citizenship for those with Temporary Protected Status (TPS)
Occasionally, the U.S. grants Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to people from countries that have been affected by war, natural disasters or other extraordinary circumstances. Under the Biden executive order on immigration, people who currently have this status will be eligible to receive their citizenship more quickly. The Biden immigration proposal may even allow these individuals to be granted Permanent Resident Cards immediately, though only time will tell.
What the Biden immigration proposal means for you
Stay tuned about the Biden immigration proposal! It’s likely that some Biden immigration proposals will have to go through rounds of negotiation in Washington before passing. Nonetheless, we’re one step closer to getting the immigration reform our community needs. Don't give up hope!
On the other hand, according to a report released by DHS, “Individuals outside of the United States will not be eligible for legal status under the bill President Biden sent to Congress today. The legalization provisions in that bill apply only to people already living in the United States.” It’s important to keep this in mind, so that the right expectations are set.
Finally, this moment in history takes us back in time to President Reagan's administration. Under his Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, around 3 million people were granted legal status. We hope these key Biden immigration proposals will pass – and history will repeat itself!