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A barrage of executive orders issued Wednesday reversed many of his predecessor Donald Trump’s initiatives. For example: they order to stop the work on the border wall with Mexico, lift restrictions on the arrival of people from several Muslim countries and reverse plans to exclude from the 2020 census those who live without permission in the country.
Six of Biden’s 17 orders, memoranda and proclamations are related to immigration. Biden also ordered that steps be taken to preserve the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which has protected hundreds of thousands of people who came to the United States as children from deportation since which was established in 2012. Additionally, Biden extended until June 2020 the temporary legal status for Liberians fleeing the civil war and the Ebola outbreak.
But that’s just the beginning. The president’s most ambitious proposal, unveiled Wednesday, is a bill that would grant legal status and a path to citizenship to anyone who was in the United States before January 1 – some 11 million people – and cut the time that family members must wait outside the country to receive green cards.
Taken together, Biden’s proposals represent a radical turnaround after four years of relentless blows to immigration, one notable of which was the separation of thousands of children from their parents under a policy of “zero tolerance” to immigration. illegal border crossings. The Trump administration also took hundreds more measures to strengthen the performance of the immigration police, limit the right to asylum and reduce legal immigration.
With this package of measures, Biden dispels any belief that his policies would be similar to those of former President Barack Obama, who promised a comprehensive bill in his first year but waited five years while racking up more than two million deportations.
Eager to avoid a flood of migrants, Biden’s aides have hinted that it will take time to reverse some of Trump’s border policies, which include forcing asylum seekers to wait in Mexico for their immigration hearings. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said that as of Thursday it would stop sending asylum seekers to Mexico to await their hearings, but that returnees must remain in the same place for the time being.
“It will take months for it to be fully assembled and operational in terms of being able to do the kind of asylum processing that we want to be able to do,” Jake Sullivan, Biden’s national security adviser, told reporters.
The administration has been silent on a 100-day moratorium on deportations that Biden promised, though it is repealing one of Trump’s first executive orders that made anyone without permission in the United States a priority for deportation. Susan Rice, head of the White House Home Policy Council, said any moratorium would be ordered by DHS, not the president.
Despite some areas still under discussion, Biden’s measures left immigrant advocates more than happy. Greisa Martinez Rosas, executive director of the activist group United We Dream, described the proposal as “the most progressive bill in history.”
“We did it,” Martinez Rosas said Wednesday in a press conference call. “We made this day a reality.”
It’s even more surprising because there was little mention of immigration during the campaign, and the issue has divided Republicans and Democrats, even within their own ranks. Legislative actions in this regard failed in 2007 and 2013.
More favorable attitudes toward immigration, especially among Democrats, could weigh in Biden’s favor. According to a Gallup poll last year, 34% of those polled supported increased immigration, an increase from 21% in 2016, and a level higher than at any time since Gallup began asking the question in 1965. .
Seven out of 10 voters said they preferred to have immigrants living in the country illegally offered an opportunity to apply for legal status, compared with 3 out of 10 who felt they should be deported to their home country. according to AP VoteCast. The poll of more than 110,000 voters in November showed that 9 out of 10 of those who voted for Biden supported a route to legal status compared to only half of those who voted for Trump.
According to the initiative, most people would have to wait eight years to achieve U.S. citizenship, but DACA recipients, those with temporary protected status after fleeing war-torn countries and farm workers, would wait. three years.
The initiative also offers development assistance to Central America, reduces the burden of 1.2 million backlogged cases in immigration courts, and grants more visas to low-allotted countries, as well as crime victims.
The proposal would allow eligible family members to wait in the United States for their green cards to be delivered by granting them temporary status while their petitions are processed, a population that Kerri Talbot of the activist group Immigration Hub estimates in 4 million.
Single adult children of US citizens who have been waiting out of the country for more than six years are barely being called by their number this month. The waits are even longer for some nationalities. The married children of U.S. citizens from Mexico have been waiting outside the United States since August 1996.
The bill faces a huge test in Congress. Democratic Senator Bob Menendez said Wednesday he would lead the Senate effort to get his approval. Experts stress that the amnesty that Ronald Reagan granted in 1986 to almost 3 million immigrants was preceded by large numbers of new arrivals and they say they expect more of the same.
In a taste of what is to come, Republican Sen. Tom Cotton noted that the initiative amounts to having “open borders: full amnesty, no consideration for the health and safety of Americans, and zero enforcement.”
In reality, law enforcement has increased exponentially since the mid-1990s and will continue. Biden’s proposal provides for the installation of more technology at land crossings, airports and seaports, and authorizes the Secretary of Homeland Security to consider other measures.
Biden warned immigrant advocates last week not to wait for approval before 100 days, said Domingo Garcia of the League of United Latin American Citizens, who participated in a conference call with the president.
“Today we celebrate,” Carlos Guevara, of the migratory activist group UnidosUS, said on Wednesday. “Tomorrow we roll up our sleeves and get to work.”
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