What Will The Immigration Landscape Look Like Under A Biden Administration?

Posted on Nov 13, 2020 by Chris Prescott

Foreign nationals no doubt breathed a sigh of relief at the news that Joe Biden had beat Donald Trump to become the next U.S. President.   However, what will change under a Biden Administration?

Over the last 4 years the Trump administration has tried to do everything in its power (and often outside of its powers) to restrict Immigration, through either Proclamation, Executive Order or by way of an Interim Final Rule.  These restrictions have taken their toll on both employers and individuals who have found it increasingly more difficult to qualify for Immigration benefits.

Biden’s view on Immigration is the polar opposite of Trump’s.  Biden believes that Immigration is essential to who we are as a Nation and is key to the Nation’s recovery.  It is expected that the new President will undo some of Trump’s Immigration policies in his first few days of taking office.

The restrictive Immigration measures which Trump enacted by Proclamation or Executive Order should be relatively easy for Biden to undo.  He can issue a new Proclamation or Executive Order effectively rescinding the measure taken by Trump.  However, other measures may not be so easy to rescind and may not be a high priority for the new President, given the ongoing pandemic.  Take for example the Public Charge Rule, which has been the focus of numerous Court decisions.  While Biden has expressed a desire to get rid of this, in order to do so he would have to go through the formal rule-making process.  This will be a time-consuming process, which means the Public Charge rule may still be around for some time.

The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) has already released a list of recommendations on Immigration reform and is calling upon the Biden administration to take immediate action.

The list of recommendations includes the following:

  • Issue a proclamation welcoming immigrants and renouncing anti-immigrant bans and policies;
  • Safeguard the nation’s health against COVID-19 without scapegoating immigrants;
  • Appoint leaders committed to the administration’s vision for reform;
  • Protect people who are part of our communities, but have no way of legalizing their status;
  • Ensure fairness, efficiency, and accountability at all immigration agencies including the immigration courts;
  • Reform the legal immigration system to review all employment- and family-based applications fairly and efficiently;
  • End the massive incarceration of immigrants by overhauling the detention system;
  • Guarantee legal assistance and counsel for those facing deportation;
  • Ensure all forms of immigration enforcement operating at the border and interior are done in a fair, humane, and prioritized manner;
  • Restore all forms of asylum and humanitarian protection.

Comprehensive Immigration reform is likely to be an uphill battle for the Biden administration unless the Democrats can take control of the Senate.  No matter what happens the future for foreign nationals is likely to look brighter than it has done in the last 4 years.  President Trump has inflicted more restrictive immigration measures on foreign nationals than any President before him, often citing the pandemic as justification for his actions.  Biden on the other hand would like to increase the number of available H-1Bs and employment-based visas, which would help clear the long backlog, allowing more foreign nationals to obtain permanent residency.

The Attorneys at PLG look forward to seeing what’s in store for the Immigration community over the next 4 years and will provide further updates as necessary.

If you have any immigration-related questions, please do not hesitate to contact one of our Immigration Attorneys.  Chris Prescott, PLG Partner can be contacted at cprescott@patellegal.com and Attorney Monique Mutombo can be contacted at mmutombo@patellegal.com.