After a hectic beginning of November, official sources have called the Presidential Election in favor of Joe Biden. With this change in administration, we can expect some fairly drastic changes to the immigration system, and thankfully the Biden-Harris has compiled a twenty-page wish list of immigration changes their administration will pursue. Notably, much of the proposals involve reversing the immigration changes of the Trump administration, and broadly the Biden-Harris team would like to implement policies in the following six categories:
The “Biden Plan” on immigration is very detailed, and far too long to break down in this format, so for those interested in the nitty gritty of each of these broad goals, I would highly recommend reading through the document. However, here are a few things that jumped out to me:
Biden’s first 100 days, from an immigration perspective, focuses almost entirely on reversing the executive actions taken by the Trump administration, and can be done so without the help of Congress, which is where many of the other more broad policy goals may be stalled. Among the most impactful changes that the Biden Plan lays out include: 1) Reinstating DACA; 2) Reversing the new “Public Charge” rule that has been the subject of so much litigation; 3) Review and suggested reinstatement of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for many groups; and 4) Reversing recently created restrictions to obtaining asylum.
Each of these has the opportunity to have immense impacts on the lives of tens or hundreds of thousands of individuals. Thousands of individuals with TPS or DACA who have been in the U.S. for decades and who have been living in a legal limbo for several years will see their status restored, and others will have the opportunity to obtain lawful status in the U.S. Others who have seen their paths to permanent residence cut off entirely or filled with new obstacles will now see these routes reopen. These humanitarian changes, if fully implemented, will be huge in remedying the harms of the past four years.
While Biden’s platform has clear and good goals in dealing with humanitarian issues surrounding immigration, at least one of the suggested reforms reminds me of some of the litigation that we are currently conducting against the Trump administration – changes to high skilled visas and wage levels for these visas. The plan suggests that high skilled temporary visas disincentivize recruiting U.S. workers, a conclusion that research contradicts. The plan states that high skilled workers are crowded out for those in entry-level wage positions – again, research suggests that the opposite is true. Instead, studies show that the presence of more H-1B visa holders leads to faster earnings growth for U.S. workers. The plan does support expanding the number of H-1B visas – hopefully alleviating some of the issues surrounding the “H-1B Lottery” – and supports the expanding the number of employer-sponsored green cards available per year, but these actions would require the assistance of Congress, whereas the restrictions related to the above may be done solely by the executive branch through the promulgation of new regulations.
Overall, this is a wish list, and not all of these reforms and policies will be implemented. The proposals would be, by and large, welcome changes, but, as always, it will be important to keep a close eye on the details of any upcoming changes, and we will continue to fight back against any ill-informed changes or policy decisions.
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