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On his first day in office, President Joe Biden made good on his promises to “roll out a sweeping overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws.” He began with a series of executive orders designed to reverse some of the Trump administration’s most controversial immigration policies.

First Day Executive Orders

Biden instructed Congress to grant permanent status and a path to citizenship to “Dreamers,” despite the Trump administration’s challenges to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Dreamers should be able to apply for a green card immediately, according to The Washington Post.

He also ended Trump’s “Muslim travel ban,” reopening immigration and restarting visa applications for Syria, Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, Yemen, Eritrea, Nigeria, Myanmar, Kyrgyzstan, and Tanzania.

Due to another of Biden’s executive orders, the Department of Homeland Security will change its priorities for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Though the details are vague, the new policies will be “in line with our values and priorities [as Americans].”

Biden also chose to end the national emergency declaration at the border to divert money and stop the building of the southern border wall and kept “deferred enforcement departure” for a select group of Liberians until June 30, 2022.

Although they will help countless immigrants ease their paths toward citizenship, these executive orders only scratch the surface of the plan from Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris. The centerpiece of Biden’s legislative proposal is an 8-year pathway to citizenship for thousands of qualifying immigrants across the country.

A Pathway to Citizenship

If Biden and Harris’ plan makes it through Congress, immigrants who are in the country as of January 1, 2021, will gain temporary status for 5 years and be eligible for a green card with a background check, payment of taxes, and other requirements. Three years later, these immigrants would be able to apply for citizenship.

In addition to making citizenship obtainable, Biden wants to address the root causes of migration from Central America, including economic turmoil and safety concerns. The President’s proposal would establish a refugee admissions program with multiple processing centers to identify, screen, and admit refugees into the United States.

Biden has also vowed not to extend Trump’s border wall.

This is not a wall,” says a transition official, “It’s a very different approach.”

Congress Has to Step Up

Conservatives equate Biden’s plans with “open borders,” but criticism aside, Biden’s plan focuses on the causes of migration, border management, and a path to citizenship.

With a new plan for enforcement at the border and revisions to the legal immigration process, the Biden-Harris administration hopes to make immigration smarter and more humane. For the administration’s plan to become a reality, however, Congress has to ‘step up.’

Biden has demonstrated his commitment to immigration reform, but executive orders can only go so far.

Visit The Modi Law Firm, PLLC’s immigration blog for regular updates throughout Biden’s presidency.

If you need help with immigration law, do not hesitate to contact Attorney Susham M. Modi or another member of our team. Our mission is to help immigrants from all over the globe enjoy the life they seek in the United States, and we are ready to help you, too.

Call us at (832) 514-4030 or contact us online for services in English, Spanish, and Gujarati.