Q#1: Over the past two years that President Biden has been in office, what major changes has he made to the immigration system?
A#1: Although Biden has signed multiple executive orders and made multiple attempts to pass various immigration bills, Biden has not yet had a “big win” on his legislative agenda in regard to immigration. In fact, his problems at the southern border are mounting, making it much more difficult for him to make sweeping changes to legalize the people already here in the US.
Q#2: Has any legislation been passed or have there been serious changes instituted by Congress?
A#2: Over the past two years, the immigration bill with the highest probability of passing was the bipartisan Farm Workforce Modernization Act. This bill was presented and passed in the House of Representatives in March 2021, but the Senate did not bring the bill to a vote. Now that the Republicans have taken control of the House, they will need to re-introduce this bill and any other immigration bill they want to vote on. Now that the House has elected a speaker, they can begin their legislative work and we will see what immigration bills are presented for debate in the House and Senate.
Q#3: In the absence of Legislation from the House and the Senate, what can President Biden do on his own?
A#3: President Biden has continued with the Title 42 requirements at the US/Mexico border that were put into place under President Trump that allows people to be removed from the US based on health concerns, specifically COVID-19 transmission. This allows the US to force people presenting themselves at the border to wait in Mexico before being granted entry. President Biden has tried to cancel this Title 42 policy, but the Supreme Court has ruled Title 42 must remain in place until a better policy is enacted. President Biden has utilized his Executive Authority to create “Humanitarian Parole” programs that allow certain groups of immigrants fleeing their home countries to enter the United States in an expedited manner.
Q#4: What countries is President Biden focusing on with these “Humanitarian Parole” programs?
A#4: Due to the war in Ukraine, President Biden has created a Parole Program that allows Ukrainians to enter the United States if they have a Sponsor who is willing to help support them. He has also recently created a similar program for people fleeing Venezuela, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Cuba.
Q#5: What can we hope to see from President Biden during years three and four of his Presidency?
A#5: Biden has two more years with the razor-thin Democratic majority in the Senate, but Democrats are in the minority in the House. It’s anyone’s guess as to what type of bipartisan immigration bills can be passed in the next two years. Hopefully, changes can be made in the departments he is in charge of, such as the Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Patrol, and the Immigration Courts so that those people present in the US, or trying to enter the US, can process or resolve their cases more quickly as we see the COVID-19 pandemic continue to subside.
Eamonn P.S. Roach is an attorney of the firm Roach & Bishop, LLP in Pasco, Washington, who practices immigration law. This information does not constitute legal advice. It is possible that this information does not apply to you. Each case depends on specific facts. If you have questions regarding the immigration laws that you would like answered in this column, please send them to: Eamonn P.S. Roach, 9221 Sandifur Pkwy, Suite C., Pasco, WA 99301, phone: (509) 547-7587, fax: (509) 547-7745; or email firstname.lastname@example.org.