Biden Administration Immigration Updates

We are just two weeks into the Biden administration and 28 executive orders have been signed, which means that President Biden is on course to surpass FDR as the president with the most Executive orders in the first month. At CILA, we are understandably most interested in what the executive orders and other administrative actions mean for immigration. This post will analyze the steps the administration has taken on immigration so far and how they will impact the population we serve, immigrant children.[1] CILA’s intention is to update this post regularly, so that it can help practitioners keep abreast of changes. The relevant actions that have occurred so far are as follows, in chronological order.

President Biden has also introduced his immigration bill, the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 to Congress. The bill includes provisions that would allow undocumented immigrants to get a temporary legal status that would lead to permanent status and give permanent status to TPS recipients, DACA recipients, and other specific groups. It also promises to reform the family-based immigration system by clearing backlogs and recapturing visas, among other things. The bill mentions various immigration court reforms but stops short of creating immigration courts that are independent of the executive branch. Nevertheless, “funding is authorized for legal orientation programs and counsel for children, vulnerable individuals, and others when necessary to ensure the fair and efficient resolution of their claims. The bill also provides funding for school districts educating unaccompanied children, while clarifying sponsor responsibilities for such children.” In addition, it lifts the one-year filing deadline for asylum and raises the cap on U visas to 30,000. There has not been much movement on the bill since its introduction, as it has been overshadowed by COVID relief.

When President Biden announced the three most recent executive orders on immigration, he said “there’s a lot of talk, with good reason, about the number of executive orders that I have signed — I’m not making new law; I’m eliminating bad policy.” For those of us who worked hard to counter the “bad policy” of the prior 4 years, sometimes change cannot come fast enough. The executive orders and actions the administration has made thus far are welcome, and we hope for even more.

[1] CILA will not be reviewing all of the different immigration executive orders and agency actions that the administration has put out so far; we are limiting our review to those pieces that will impact unaccompanied children. There are several good resources already created that look at the full picture, such as AILA’s “Featured Issue: First 100 Days of the Biden Administration,” Immigration Advocates Network Alerts, “The First 100 Days,” and the ABA Commission on Immigration’s “Recent White House and Executive Agency Immigration Pronouncements.”