America made its voice heard, and the people chose Joe Biden as the 46th president of the United States. So, what does this mean for immigration? It could mean a lot—sooner rather than later.
More than just a change in leadership at the top, this election brings about a change in the way America is viewed by future generations. Things shifted rapidly in 2017 after the Obama administration handed the keys to the Trump administration, and it is likely that we’ll see a similar speed of change in 2021.
So, what exactly will the change look like?
Here are a few of the key points Joe Biden has published under his immigration plan:
1) Offer protection for DACA: The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program was created under the Obama/Biden administration and has remained in place. There was an effort to deport those who came to the United States as children, but it was blocked by the Supreme Court.
Biden will seek to continue to uphold this program, which offers around 700,000 people deportation protection and gives them the ability to legally work in the U.S.
2) Reinstate The DAPA: The Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA) program never got passed into law but was an executive order that was eventually blocked. It would have extended similar protections (renewable work permits and deportation protection) to foreign-born parents who had children who were legally in the United States—for instance, a parent who arrived without documentation and a child who was an American citizen. The goal was simply to keep these families together, even if the parents had entered the country without following all of the protocols.
The Biden administration may put new focus on this or seek to expand the scope of these protections.
3) Keep families together: The Biden administration has repeatedly stressed its goal to help keep immigrant families intact, even going so far as to say that “immigration is essential to who we are as a nation, our core values, and our aspirations for our future.”
Joe Biden will explore legal options to prevent the deportation of family members and pave the way to legal residency in the United States.
4) Increase refugee limits: Few areas have seen quite the same level of change as that of the refugee population in the last four years. Under the Obama administration, the United States allowed 85,000 refugees to resettle in the U.S. The Trump administration proposed a ceiling of 15,000 refugee admissions for fiscal year 2021, which would be a historic low.
Joe Biden is expected to quickly increase refugee limits once he takes power.
Why are these changes coming?
As noted with DACA and DAPA, these changes are often about keeping families together and trying to create opportunities for those who face hardships and persecution in other countries. But there is also an economic benefit, as immigrants make massive contributions to the gross domestic product (GDP) in America. Some estimates indicate that around $2 trillion is brought in annually by foreign-born workers. It’s clear that immigration is a foundational element of the United States’ cultural identity and financial strength.
With the immigration landscape likely to shift rapidly in the coming days, immigrants and their families must know what rights they have under the new administration, what options may become available to them and how they can protect the lives they’ve worked so hard to build.
HAVE QUESTIONS? YOU CAN ALWAYS COME TO ANTONINI & COHEN WITH ALL YOUR IMMIGRATION QUESTIONS. WE ARE HERE TO HELP.
For more information or questions about how these new policies might impact you, reach out anytime online or give us a call (404) 850-9394 for assistance with any immigration issue you’re facing.
Marshall Cohen is one of the founding principals of Antonini & Cohen. Admitted to the Georgia Bar in 1989, he has practiced immigration law exclusively for over 30 years. Mr. Cohen practices all areas of immigration law including family and employment cases, temporary and permanent visas, naturalization, deportation defense, and federal litigation.