The election of Joe Biden to the presidency of the United States has caused a great deal of talk and anticipation of the possibility of changes to immigration laws and policies. At EN Lawyers, as we follow these changes to the law, we want to keep you informed and up to date.

Check our website frequently for a regular discussion of all immigration-related topics. Including how current and potential EN Lawyers clients may be affected by new laws and policies.

As always, the attorneys at EN Lawyers are available to consult with you. Providing you with a complete and honest assessment of your immigration case – in-person, on the phone, or via web video.

Volume 1: President Biden’s Immigration Executive Orders

On January 20, 2021, President Biden signed six executive orders relating to immigration.

These executive orders addressed a wide range of immigration issues. These include:

  • the counting of noncitizens in the 2020 census
  • the “Muslim Ban”
  • Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) for Liberian Nationals
  • Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)
  • interior enforcement priorities
  • the border wall
  • Migrant Protection Protocols, otherwise known as the “remain in Mexico” policy

In this article, we will discuss in more detail a few of those orders that will most directly impact EN Lawyers clients and their friends and relatives.

Immigration Enforcement Priorities

What’s old?

One former President Trump’s very first acts was to direct Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to target for deportation any and all non-citizens in the United States without authorization or otherwise in violation of the law.

This indiscriminate enforcement of the immigration laws wreaked havoc and caused terror among immigrant communities in the United States. It also added greatly to the backlog of cases in the Immigration Court and otherwise redirected ICE’s resources away from higher priorities for enforcement, including non-citizens with criminal records and threats to national security.

What’s new?

President Biden’s immigration enforcement priorities are explained in a memo released on January 20, 2021. From deciding whether to arrest someone, detain them, or release them, whether to initiate removal proceedings against someone or how to prosecute someone in removal proceedings, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials are to consider the following priority categories:

Threats to National Security

Anyone who might present a threat to the national security of the US (including those suspected of terrorism or espionage).

Threats to Border Security

Anyone apprehended while attempting to unlawfully enter the US on or after November 1, 2020; and
Threats to Public Safety – anyone released from incarceration after January 20, 2021, who has been convicted of an “aggravated felony”.

What’s next?

President Biden directed a 100-day pause on all deportations. This was to allow DHS and its subagencies:

  • ICE
  • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
  • Customs and Border Protection (CBP)

to conduct a review of all immigration enforcement priorities and protocols.

During that 100-day period, with a few limited exceptions, DHS is not to deport anyone from the United States.

EN Lawyers will continue to monitor changes in immigration enforcement policies. If you believe that you or someone you know may be impacted by these changes, please contact us for a consultation.

DACA – Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals

What’s old for DACA?

DACA, the program designed to protect and provide work authorization for so-called “Dreamers,” was under constant attack by former President Trump. In 2017, the DHS announced its intent to cancel the program, but various lawsuits filed across the country allowed those who had already applied for and received DACA benefits to continue to renew those benefits. Last year, the Supreme Court ruled that the government’s cancellation of DACA was illegal, and as of December 2020, DHS is accepting new and renewal DACA applications.

What’s new for DACA?

On President Biden’s first day in office, he signed an executive order directing the DHS to take actions to “preserve and fortify” DACA. The executive order does not make any changes to DACA, but it does assure that the program will remain fully in effect for the foreseeable future.

What’s next for DACA??

In Congress, there is renewed discussion of a bipartisan bill to formalize protections and benefits for “Dreamers.” This is an encouraging sign and would potentially create a legal and permanent status for DACA recipients that could not be canceled or rescinded by a different presidential administration.

EN Lawyers continues to encourage current DACA recipients to timely renew their applications and work permits. We are also encouraging those who never previously applied to do so now, as the program is very likely to remain in place for the foreseeable future. Please contact EN Lawyers for a consultation to discuss your eligibility for DACA.

“Migrant Protection Protocols”

What’s old?

In December 2018, former President Trump announced the start of the “Migrant Protection Protocols” (MPP), which became known as the “Remain in Mexico” policy.

This policy required asylum-seekers at the US southern border to wait in Mexico while their claims for asylum were being considered. Asylum-seekers were forced to live for months in make-shift tent cities along the border where conditions were harsh and inhumane. Where it was almost impossible to access an attorney for representation in their asylum cases.

What’s new?

President Biden has announced that DHS will not enroll any more asylum-seekers into MPP. This effectively terminates the “remain in Mexico” policy.

What’s next?

COVID-19 travel restrictions are currently preventing the US from allowing into the country those who are already in MPP. Most immigration advocates are hopeful that the suspension of MPP is a sign of good faith. That when possible, President Biden will again allow asylum-seekers to enter the US and reside here while they legally pursue their asylum cases in the Immigration Courts.

EN Lawyers represents asylum-seekers from around the world. We are always available to consult with you regarding your claim for protection in the United States.

*Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons