It is no secret that the United States' immigration policy under the Trump administration was a tumultuous, hot button issue. The last four years saw a dramatic shift in national policies and upended many of the systems and structures we had gotten used to working within. The Trump administration enacted over 400 executive actions on immigration that affected everything from our asylum system to on-the-ground border enforcement.
With so much having recently changed regarding immigration, and an incoming administration coming in with a stated opposition to many of these changes, we are left to wonder just what the next few years may look like. Hope is high that we may see some tangible improvements in policy, but with the pandemic still raging and the nation heavily divided, others are more pessimistic about the future.
To see just what the upcoming years may hold, we will look at the Biden administration's proposed U.S. Citizenship Laws and what they may mean for immigrants and those of us who work with them.
In this article:
- A Hard Shift Back, But Likely for the Best
- The First 100 Days of the New Administration
- The Biden Administration's Key Immigration Goals
- The Future of USCIS
A Hard Shift Back, But Likely for the Best
Joe Biden has already stated that he is ready to use his executive powers to undo many of the changes enacted by Donald Trump. He plans to make these quick changes while his administration will seek more durable and longer lasting reforms over time. When you look at the proposals, what you see seems to be a quick and hard change of direction back into the Obama administration’s policies, as well as a further push to bring forward more protections and options for immigrants.
The First 100 Days of the New Administration
The Biden Administration has put out a long document listing all of their immigration plans and proposals and has declared it will “take urgent action to undo Trump’s damage and reclaim America’s values.” An aspect of this plan is a series of direct actions that will occur within the first 100 days President Joe Biden is in office. The major proposals for these first three months of office include:
- Reversing the policies that separate parents from their children at the border.
The administration promises to end the prosecution of parents for minor violations, and to make it a priority to reunite children separated from their parents due to this policy.
- Reinstating the DACA program
Reinstating the DACA program and ensuring they are eligible for federal student aid (loans, Pell grants) will help work to help these members of our community contribute even more, and without the chaos or confusion of recent years.
- End the “metering” of the asylum system.
The Trump administration of metering or limiting the number of asylum applicants caused backups and overcrowding in dangerous Mexican border towns. These limits will be removed and policies out in place to take care of these refugees.
- Reverse the public charge rule.
The public charge rule, which made receiving a visa or permanent residency more difficult if one used government services such as Medicaid, will be removed.
- Other key initiatives for this time period include:
- Revising asylum policies such as the Migrant Protection Protocols.
- Foster public-private initiatives at the border to better meet humanitarian needs.
- End the “National Emergency,” funding the border wall.
- Rescind the travel and refugee bans.
- Ensure ICE and CBP personnel abide by professional standards and are held accountable.
- Create a parole process for veterans who have been deported.
- Improve the naturalization process so it can be more accessible for qualified green card holders.
- Ending of workplace raids and protecting key locations from immigration enforcement such as schools and hospitals.
- Put together a regional meeting, including El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, and Canada, to better meet the challenges causing mass migration and find a regional resettlement solution.
- A review of Temporary Protected Status. The Administration also wants to make sure that TPS/DED holders who have built lives in the U.S. will have a path to citizenship.
- The Administration will use the Task Force on New Americans once again to bring together federal resources to provide community support across a range of issues.
The Biden Administration's Key Immigration Goals
Past the first one hundred days the Biden administration has given five key goals around immigration they will be focusing on.
- Modernize America’s immigration system
- Welcome immigrants in our communities
- Reassert America’s commitment to asylum-seekers and refugees
- Tackle the root causes of irregular migration
- Implement effective border screening
The stated plans include investing in modern technology, such as cameras and large-scale X-ray machines, in order to update the security across all of our ports of entry. The plans also include reforms to the Visa program and a roadmap to citizenship for undocumented workers. One such policy provides for the idea of creating a new visa category that will allow cities to petition for higher levels of immigrants to augment growth.
Additionally, the Biden Administration wishes to reestablish the Task Force for New Americans and establish new immigrant affairs offices in regional offices across the country. These programs will work to help immigrants learn English and navigate the educational and medical systems. Immigrant entrepreneur programs are also mentioned.
The Future of USCIS
One area that is very relevant to The Spanish Group is the changes to USCIS. Document translation services for USCIS are something we handle daily and any changes to applicable policies (for example, a change that would affect the process for a birth certificate translation for USCIS) is something we must keep a close eye on.
With so many changes likely to occur in the near future, the policies and methods of USCIS are bound to change. Currently, though, with most of their workers furloughed, it can be a bit hard to imagine what that will look like.
Regardless of the policies and their outcomes, The Spanish Group will continue to provide unparalleled USCIS certified translation services.
Something that has been an issue with USCIS has been their funding. USCIS is paid for through fees, and with the recent restrictions on immigration, as well as Covid-19, they have been a heavily underfunded agency. This has resulted in furloughs and hiring freezes. In turn, USCIS translation services, such as USCIS translation certification applications, have been processed very slowly in recent months. One hope is that these new policies allow the agency to get back on its feet and to operate at full capacity once again.
The granting of Immigration translation certifications and the processing of applications and immigration translation documents need to commence once again, and on a larger scale, before the thousands of individuals and families currently in some form of legal limbo can breathe easily again. This needs to be a top priority of the new administration if they truly seek to help immigrants.
The Spanish Group Will Continue to Serve Above and Beyond
Even if the Biden administration can only enact a small amount of these planned changes, there is still likely to be a significant shift in how USCIS document translation and other services are required to function (at least on the federal side of things).
The good news is that The Spanish Group has already shown that whether dealing with a pandemic, or the vast rehauling of our immigration system, we can continue to provide the best professional, personal, and USCIS translation services available. We will keep a close eye on the developments over the years to come and will ensure every one of our services is geared precisely to meet the demands of the current age.