Things That Matter

These Are The Changes Likely Coming To Immigration Policy In 2020

Unless you’ve been completely disconnected from reality, you likely know that this year is a presidential election year. Both Donald Trump and candidates for the Democratic primary have been touring their policy positions ahead of the election and regardless of who ends up in the White House, there will be serious changes to the United States’ immigration policies.

Even before the November election, we can expect major policy changes under the Trump Administration. And given the president’s previous stance on immigration, we shouldn’t expect him to stand before the Statue Of Liberty and tout the USA as a beacon of hope for migrants and its tradition as a nation of migrants. But here’s what we should expect in the new year:

DACA

On November 12, 2019, the Supreme Court heard a challenge to the Trump administration’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which currently grants work authorization and administrative relief from deportation for up to 700,000 individuals who came to America before the age of 16. If the Supreme Court rules in favor of the administration, then talk of a legislative compromise will increase. However, the closer it gets to the November 2020 presidential election, the less likely a deal may become.

Temporary Protected Status (TPS)

A November 1, 2019, Federal Register notice automatically extended “the validity of TPS-related documentation for beneficiaries under the TPS designations for Sudan, Nicaragua, Haiti and El Salvador through Jan. 4, 2021.” However, a decision in the case of Ramos v. Nielsen, which blocked the Trump administration’s attempt to rescind Temporary Protected Status for several countries, could end long-term stays in the United States for approximately 300,000 people.

Refugee and Asylum Policies

SYDNEY TOWN HALL, SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – 2016/02/08: Protesters at Town Hall Square gathered to demonstrate against offshore detention. With mounting public and political pressure against the Australian Federal Government an estimated 4000 protesters rallied at Sydney Town Hall to demonstrate their opposition to the deportation and detention of asylum seeker children to the offshore processing centers of Manus Island and Nauru. The protesters called for the abandonment of all offshore detention with the vocal message of ‘let them stay’. (Photo by Richard Ashen/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)

In September 2019, the Trump administration announced a historically low annual refugee admission ceiling of 18,000 for FY 2020, a reduction of 84% from the 110,000-limit set during the last year of the Obama administration. “The administration betrays our national commitment to offering refuge and religious freedom to persecuted Christians and other religious minorities,” said World Relief in a statement. There is no reason to anticipate the administration will raise the refugee ceiling for FY 2021. 

In response to an executive order mandating consent from state and local authorities to resettle refugees, more than 30 governors have written letters to the State Department pledging their states will continue to resettle refugees. Three organizations have filed a lawsuit over the executive order.

Numerous lawsuits have challenged the administration’s asylum policies toward Central Americans. In one respect, the administration has already “won” on asylum, since the policies to block most asylum seekers and send them to Mexico and other countries have been allowed to remain in place while litigation has continued.

The Wall

Credit: US DHS / CBP

Donald Trump is determined to build as much of a “wall” as possible before the November 2020 election. Anticipate stepped-up seizures of private landand fights with judges and environmental groups.

The Public Charge Rule

On October 4, 2019, a presidential proclamation used Section 212(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act to bar new immigrants from entering the United States without health insurance, potentially reducing legal immigration by hundreds of thousands of people per year. A similar reduction in legal immigration could result if the administration’s rule on Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds goes into effect. 

Judges have blocked both measures, at least temporarily, but if a court clears either for use, then it could be the Trump administration’s most far-reaching immigration measure. A permanent reduction in the flow of legal immigrants would reduce the long-term rate of economic growth in America, making these actions potentially the most significant policies to affect the U.S. economy under the Trump presidency.

Workplace Enforcement Rules

Since Donald Trump took office, investigators with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement opened about four times the number of workplace investigations as compared to the Obama administration. That trend is likely to continue in 2020. A U.S. Supreme Court decision in Kansas v. Garcia may represent a more significant immigration enforcement threat for companies. Paul Hughes, who represented Garcia, said in an interview if the court rules in favor of Kansas, then “local city and county prosecutors could engage in mass prosecutions of employees and employers” for “the employment of immigrants who lack work authorization.”

Decriminalizing Illegal Border Crossings

If a Democrat wins the White House come November, we can expect increased conversations on decriminalizing illegal border crossings. Julian Castro first floated the idea during a Democratic debate and since then the idea has been picked up by other candidates as well. This would be a major shift in US policy but one that could bring immense change to migrant communities.

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President Joe Biden Signs Executive Order To Preserve DACA

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President Joe Biden Signs Executive Order To Preserve DACA

Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

January 22, 2021

The Trump administration spent years trying to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The Obama-era program was important in helping young undocumented adults who came to the country when they were children. President Joe Biden has restored it.

President Joe Biden has restored DACA to its original 2012 form.

President Biden was with President Obama when DACA was passed to protect the young adults who benefit from the program. President Biden’s executive order is giving hundreds of thousands of young adults protections and the ability to work once again.

“This memorandum, known as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) guidance, deferred the removal of certain undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children, have obeyed the law, and stayed in school or enlisted in the military,” reads the memorandum posted on the White House website. “DACA and associated regulations permit eligible individuals who pass a background check to request temporary relief from removal and to apply for temporary work permits. DACA reflects a judgment that these immigrants should not be a priority for removal based on humanitarian concerns and other considerations and that work authorization will enable them to support themselves and their families, and to contribute to our economy, while they remain.”

Original: During the 2020 election, Latinos were a massive electoral voting bloc. In fact, for the first time ever, the Latino vote outnumbered the Black vote. According to the Pew Research Center, there are now 32 million eligible Latino voters and that accounts for 13 percent of all eligible voters. 

And, Latinos helped deliver the presidency to Joe Biden. So it can be expected that the community has high expectations for Joe Biden to deliver on his campaign promises of immigration reform.

During a recent speech about his first 100 days in office, Joe Biden outlined his priorities once he’s sworn in on January 20th, and said he would “immediately” send an immigration bill to congress.

Joe Biden promises swift action on immigration reform as soon as he takes office.

Over the weekend, President-Elect Joe Biden promised he would take swift action when it comes to immigration reform and rolling back many of the cruel and dangerous policies put into place by the Trump administration.

“I will introduce an immigration bill immediately,” he said in a news conference on Friday.

Although he didn’t go into detail regarding the proposed legislation, he’s previously committed to ending Trump’s ban on immigration from predominantly Muslim nations, and that he wants a path to citizenship for Dreamers, and an increase in guest worker permits to help bring undocumented agricultural workers – many of whom are now considered “essential workers” – out of the shadows.

Biden had already promised an immigration overhaul within the first 100 days of his presidency but this commitment definitely increases the pressure on him and congress to get things done.

Biden also said his justice department will investigate the policy of child separation.

During the same press conference, Biden said that his Justice Department will determine responsibility for the family separation program, which led to more than 2,600 children being taken from caregivers after crossing the U.S. southern border, and whether it was criminal.

“There will be a thorough, thorough investigation of who is responsible, and whether or not the responsibility is criminal,” Biden said. That determination will be made by his attorney general-designate, Merrick Garland, he added.

During the campaign, Biden finally took responsibility for many of his administration’s immigration failures.

Nicknamed the “Deporter in Chief,” Obama deported more immigrants than any other president in U.S. history with over 3 million deportations during his time in office. 

But as part of that administration, Joe Biden is also complicit. That’s why during the campaign he seemed to acknowledge at least some of the pain the duo caused.

“Joe Biden understands the pain felt by every family across the U.S. that has had a loved one removed from the country, including under the Obama-Biden Administration, and he believes we must do better to uphold our laws humanely and preserve the dignity of immigrant families, refugees, and asylum-seekers,” Biden’s immigration plan reads. 

While Obama’s methods pale in comparison to the cruel tactics like family separation, inhumane conditions, and targeted raids, the impact the deportations have had on families is cannot be quantified.

Biden, like any Vice President, is put in the position of having to defend his president, but also himself as the future president. This isn’t a bad thing, Biden must distinguish himself from his predecessor but if the shadow of Obama’s legacy is buying him goodwill, it might be difficult to undermine that administration’s stances.

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New DACA Applications Were Processed At The End Of 2020 For The First Time In Years

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New DACA Applications Were Processed At The End Of 2020 For The First Time In Years

Sandy Huffaker / AFP / Getty Images

Update January 7, 2021

The lives of hundreds of thousands of young people in the U.S. were thrown into jeopardy in September 2017. That was when Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals was originally halted by former Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Three years later, new applications are finally being processed.

More than 170 new DACA applications were approved at the end of 2020.

A report given to a federal court in Brooklyn shows that the Department of Homeland Security approved 171 new DACA applications. About 500 applications have been denied or rejected while more than 2,700 applications were submitted.

In June 2020, a federal judge ruled that President Trump wrongfully ended the DACA program in 2017. However, the then-acting head of the Department of Homeland Security stated that the department would not accept new applications. Furthermore, Chad Wolf’s memo stated that renewals would be made for one year instead of two years.

In November, a federal judge ruled that Wolf was illegally appointed to his position as acting head of DHS. The Trump administration didn’t challenge the ruling and it immediately invalidated Wolf’s memo. DHS was notified that they had to public post that new applications will be accepted.

If you want to submit a new DACA application or if yours lapsed during the uncertainty, click here for resources.

Original: In a major victory for the community, a federal judge has ruled that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which was created by President Barack Obama in 2012, must be completely reinstated and open to new applicants starting today.

However, this case could still end up before the Supreme Court (which now has three conservative Trump appointees) making its future uncertain. This is why congressional action is so critical in protecting our friends, family, and neighbors from the whims of ever-chasing political landscapes.

DACA gets another lifeline as federal judge orders Trump to restart the program in full.

On Friday, a federal judge handed immigrants and their families a major victory with a ruling on DACA. Judge Nicholas Garaufis said in his ruling, that the terms of the federal program must be immediately restored to what they were “prior to the attempted rescission of September 2017” when the White House began a series of maneuvers to dismantle the program. 

The case is Batalla Vidal v. Wolf, and largely hinges on the argument that Chad Wolf – the DHS official who issued the memo ending the program – wasn’t acting within his legal authority to do so.

In his order, Garaufis said that DHS must “post a public notice, within 3 calendar days of this Order … that it is accepting first-time requests for consideration of deferred action under DACA.” Which means that unless a higher court blocks his order, DHS must begin accepting new applications for as soon as today. 

Garaufis also ordered the government to produce a status report on the DACA program to him by Jan. 4, and said it must include the number of first-time DACA applications it’s received, adjudicated, approved, denied and rejected from Nov. 14 to Dec. 31 of this year.

Eligible migrants will be able to apply for DACA protection immediately.

DACA currently protects about 640,000 undocumented young immigrants. As of July, an estimated 300,000 young people living in the U.S. are eligible for the program and still waiting for a chance to apply. That includes 55,000 who have aged into eligibility over the last three years.

So the good news for DACA-eligible immigrants is that, barring a decision from a higher court blocking Garaufis’s most recent order, those immigrants will soon be able to obtain DACA status. And even if the order is blocked, President-elect Joe Biden has also pledged to fully reinstate DACA once he takes office on January 20.

The judge also instructed officials to reinstate two-year permits for qualifying applicants. Over the summer, the administration had begun issuing one-year permits. 

This ruling is the latest blow to the administration’s attempts to undermine the Obama-era program.

Credit: Sandy Huffaker / AFP / Getty Images

Since taking office in 2017, the Trump administration has repeatedly tried to completely dismantle the DACA program. However, they’ve also faced serious pushback on the legal front in their attempts to do so.

In 2017, Trump’s DHS issued a memo that sought to wind down the DACA program, but the Supreme Court ruled last June that DHS’s initial attempts to end it were void because the department did not adequately explain why it was doing so.

Nevertheless, the future of DACA remains uncertain. For one thing, the Supreme Court’s June decision blocking the Trump administration’s initial attempts to end the program was a  5-4 decision, with the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in the majority. Since then, Trump has replaced Ginsburg with the far more conservative Justice Amy Coney Barrett. And even before Barrett arrived at the Supreme Court, several members of the Court had signaled that they thought DACA is illegal.

So there’s a reasonable likelihood that the Court’s new 6-3 Republican majority will strike down the DACA program even as Biden tries to preserve it.

Although a major win, the ruling could also have major consequences for Biden’s presidency.

Although a major win for the immigrant community, Garaufis’s ruling could have serious consequences for Biden’s presidency. In his opinion, Garaufis is basically placing limits on the authority presidents have to make acting appointments. And if the Senate remains under Republican control, they will essentially have the power to block any Biden nominee.

All of this boils down to the upcoming Georgia senate races. If Republicans win in either race, then Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) will continue to lead the Senate, and Republicans will have the power to block any Biden nominee to any Senate-confirmed job.

That’s why the January run off races in Georgia are bigger than just Georgia. They will help shape everything from the country’s COVID-19 response and foreign policy to how Biden fixes years of attacks on the nation’s immigrant community.

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