New Administration, New Policies
On the heels of his inauguration, President Biden issued multiple Executive Orders, Presidential Proclamations, and memoranda, many of which revoked policies implemented by the Trump administration. Immigration-related actions include:
- Memorandum to the heads of all executive departments and agencies regarding regulatory freeze. This memo calls for an immediate withdrawal on the publication of new rules that were drafted by the previous administration but not yet published, including the recently proposed “Strengthening the H-1B Nonimmigrant Visa Classification” rule that would significantly change the longstanding definition of the employer-employee relationship. All non-published rules will be reviewed and approved by the new administration before they can be published and implemented. This memorandum also calls for department heads to consider delaying the implementation of rules that were published prior to January 20, 2021 but have not yet gone into effect, so that the administration can review them before they are in force. This will likely impact the recent prevailing wage final rule, which dramatically increases the salaries employers must pay to foreign workers, as well as the rule changing the H-1B lottery selection procedures to favor the highest wage earners.
- Presidential Proclamation on Ending Discriminatory Bans on Entry to the United States. This Proclamation revokes the previous administration’s multiple executive orders suspending or limiting entry into the U.S. by nationals of specific countries, including Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Syria, Venezuela, Yemen, Somalia, Burma (Myanmar), Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Nigeria, Sudan, and Tanzania. This Proclamation directs the State Department to identify individuals with active visa applications who were being evaluated for waivers to these bans and expedite processing of their applications. It also requests a proposal for ensuring reconsideration of cases that were denied under these bans, as well as a review of the effectiveness of enhanced vetting procedures that were implemented by the prior administration, including the use of social media screening. This Proclamation does not revoke the COVID-related travel bans that remain in place at present for individuals who have been in certain COVID hotspot countries within 14 days and for specific types of visas that the prior administration identified as a threat to the U.S. labor market.
- Memorandum regarding preserving and fortifying Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). President Biden directed the Attorney General and Secretary of Homeland Security to take action to preserve and strengthen the protections that the Obama administration implemented for children who were brought to the U.S illegally but who have since obeyed the law and passed background checks. DACA allows these children to apply for work permits and be temporarily protected from deportation.
- Presidential Proclamation on the border wall. This Proclamation terminates the state of emergency at the southern border that was declared by the previous administration, which allowed the diversion of funds from other sources to be used for border wall construction. It also calls for a halt of taxpayer funding for the border wall, a review of the funding and contracts related to border wall construction, and an assessment on the impact of ceasing further construction.
- Executive Order on the Revision of Civil Immigration Enforcement Policies and Priorities. This Order revokes the prior administration’s Order withholding Federal funds from so-called “sanctuary cities,” expanding removal operations, and increasing immigration violation penalties.
More changes are expected to come over the next weeks and months.If you have questions about how these changes could impact your immigration case, contact Best Law Offices for a consultation!