Immigration

In his first year of office, President Biden issued 296 executive actions on immigration to reverse the damage done by Trump and to improve the immigration process. While the federal courts have obstructed some of Biden’s efforts and the global pandemic has made immigration more challenging, the Biden-Harris Administration has taken action that “has advanced or changed policies in ways that have significant impact on humanitarian protection, immigration enforcement, and legal immigration, touching the lives of large numbers of immigrants.” The Democratic House majority also passed the American Dream and Promise Act in 2021 which would provide a pathway to citizenship for up to 4.4M DREAMers (people who came to the US as children), and the Farm Workforce Modernization Act which would give legal status to immigrant farmworkers.

 

What Have the Biden-Harris Administration and Dems Done?

 

  • Appointed first Latino and immigrant Secretary of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas.
  • Reinstated DACA.
  • Reversed Trump’s Muslim ban policy.
  • Passed the American Dream and Promise Act in 2021 in the Democratic majority House. (Senate Republicans blocked it.)
  • Passed the Farm Workforce Modernization Act in 2021 in the Democratic majority House. (Senate Republicans blocked it.)
  • Introduced the US Citizenship Act. This ambitious bill would provide a roadmap to citizenship, prohibit discrimination, increase diversity visas, fund immigrant and refugee integration and citizenship, expand our economy, improve access to green cards for workers in lower-wage sectors, protect undocumented workers from exploitation, improve the immigration court system, support asylum seekers and increase protections for U visa, T visa, and VAWA applicants. The bill is currently in committee.
  • Allowed non-citizen veterans to return to the US.
  • Helped veterans become US citizens.
  • Ended Trump family separation policy.
  • Reunited 97% of children separated from their parents at the border.
  • Limited ICE enforcement of non-citizens to those who pose a national security risk, have been convicted of certain crimes, or who recently entered the country illegally.
  • Limited ICE enforcement to certain locations and situations.
  • Ended ICE raids.
  • Ended long-term family detention.
  • Processed new immigrants who had previously been rejected by the Trump administration.
  • Increased refugee caps to 125k refugees – the highest in 30 years.
  • Expanded eligibility for non-citizens qualifying for legal protections such as deferred action, parole, Temporary Protected Status (TPS), asylum, or refugee status.
  • Lifted Trump green card ban.
  • Expanded pathways for immigration.
  • Expedited relief for asylum seekers.
  • Established Emergency Refugee and Migration Assistance Fund to support urgent humanitarian needs of vulnerable refugees and migrants in Central America.
  • Opened the first Migration Resource Center (MRC) in Guatemala.
  • Reduced human trafficking and drug smuggling.
  • Partnered with Mexico and Northern Triangle countries to increase economic opportunities, reduce crime, and empower young women.
  • Addressed root causes of migration and empowered local communities in the Northern Triangle (El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras by funding initiatives to address lack of economic opportunity and crime concerns, supporting local partners and increasing security in the region and cracking down on human smugglers in the US.

Facts about Immigrants:

 

  • 2nd generation immigrants are “among the strongest fiscal & economic contributors in the U.S.” They contribute about $1,700 per person/year compared to other native-born Americans who contribute $1,300 per year on average.
  • Undocumented immigrants pay an estimated $11.6 billion a year in taxes, according to the Institute on Taxation & Economic Policy.
  • Most economists agree that in spite of being a very big part of the labor force, immigrants have not come at the cost of either American jobs or American wages. In fact, immigrants often take jobs that Americans won’t.
  • According to Pew, the most important component of the growth in the working-age population over the next two decades will be the arrival of future immigrants.

What Have the Biden-Harris Administration and Dems Done?

    • Appointed first Latino and immigrant Secretary of Homeland Security: Alejandro Mayorkas.
    • Reinstated DACA.
    • Reversed Trump’s Muslim ban policy.
    • The Democratic House passed the American Dream and Promise Act in 2021. This bill would incorporate into federal law provisions of the DACA program, provide a path to citizenship for 2.5M DREAMers and would allow up to 4.4M DREAMers to be eligible for Conditional Permanent Residence or Temporary Protected Status. (Senate Republicans blocked it.)
    • The Democratic House passed the Farm Workforce Modernization Act in 2021. This bill would amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to provide for terms and conditions for nonimmigrant workers performing agricultural labor or services in the United States. It would allow more than 1M undocumented farm workers to apply for legal status if they have worked a minimum of 180 days in agriculture for two years. (Senate Republicans blocked it.)
    • President Biden sent Congress the US Citizenship Act which would:
        • Provide a roadmap to citizenship for undocumented individuals and kept families together.
        • Include the NO BAN Act that prohibits discrimination based on religion and limits presidential authority to issue future bans.
        • Increase Diversity Visas to 80K from 55K.
        • Fund immigrant and refugee integration and citizenship on a state and local level, as well as in community based orgs and educational institutions.
        • Expand our economy by reducing employment-based visa backlogs and eliminating per-country visa caps and unnecessary hurdles for employment-based green cards.
        • Make it easier for graduates of U.S. universities with advanced STEM degrees to stay in the United States.
        • Improve access to green cards for workers in lower-wage sectors.
        • Protect workers from exploitation and improve the employment verification process.
        • Grant U visa relief to workers who suffered serious labor violations and cooperated with worker protection agencies.
        • Protect workers who are victims of workplace retaliation from deportation in order to allow labor agencies to interview these workers. It would also protect migrant and seasonal workers, and increase penalties for employers who violate labor laws.
        • Address economic and social root causes of immigration.
        • Improve the immigration courts and protect vulnerable individuals.
        • Support asylum seekers and other vulnerable populations by eliminating the one-year deadline for filing asylum claims and providing funding to reduce asylum application backlogs. It also increased protections for U visa, T visa, and VAWA
        • applicants, including by raising the cap on U visas from 10,000 to 30,000.
        • Expand protections for foreign nationals assisting U.S. troops.
        • The bill is currently in committee.
    • Allowed non-citizen veterans to return to the US. Non-citizens who served in the U.S. armed forces can return to the United States if the agencies determine they were unjustly removed.
    • Helped veterans become US citizens. The Dept. of Veterans Affairs has begun contacting 123,983 military veterans who are not U.S. citizens about how to become citizens.
    • Ended Trump family separation policy. President Biden reversed Trump’s “zero-tolerance” policy which separated families with parents being deported back to their home countries without their children.
    • Reunited children separated from their parents at the border. Of the more than 5K children who were separated from their parents, 97% have been reunited with their families.
    • Limited ICE enforcement of non-citizens. New guidelines issued by DHS require ICE officers to prioritize enforcement actions for non-citizens who pose a national security risk, have been convicted of certain crimes, or who recently entered the country illegally.
    • Limited ICE enforcement to certain locations and situations. DHS issued guidelines limiting immigration enforcement in certain locations and situations, e.g. pregnant, postpartum, or nursing individuals cannot be detained or arrested, enforcement cannot occur at a variety of sensitive locations (schools, mental health facilities, churches, hospitals, playgrounds etc.)
    • Ended ICE raids. Under Biden, ICE ended mass work enforcement operations, where the threat of arrest and deportation has long been used by exploitative employers to suppress and retaliate against workers’ assertion of labor laws. Now, ICE is going after abusive employers of undocumented workers.
    • Ended long-term family detention.
    • Processed new immigrants. DHS processed re-entry of thousands of migrants who had previously been rejected by the Trump administration.
    • Increased refugee caps. President Biden dramatically increased the cap on refugees to be accepted into the US to 125k refugees – the highest in 30 years. Trump’s cap was 15K. As part of this, over 75K Afghan refugees were accepted into the US and 100K Ukrainians in 2022.
    • Expanded eligibility for non-citizens qualifying for legal protections such as deferred action, parole, Temporary Protected Status (TPS), asylum, or refugee status.
    • Lifted Trump green card ban. Biden ended the Trump-era ban on green cards which blocked most legal immigration to the US.
    • Expanded pathways for immigration. DHS announced the availability of 6K temporary, non-agricultural workers for nationals of Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala in 2021.
    • Expedited relief for asylum seekers. DHS and DOJ implemented a rule to ensure that those who are eligible for asylum are granted relief quickly.
    • Established Emergency Refugee and Migration Assistance Fund. Provided over $1B to support urgent humanitarian needs of vulnerable refugees and migrants in Central America.
    • Opened the first Migration Resource Center (MRC) in Guatemala. The center provides individuals with protection screenings and referrals to asylum, refugee resettlement, and parole options.
    • Reduced human trafficking and drug smuggling. Created a regional task force to identify, disrupt, and prevent migrant smuggling and human trafficking. Partnered with Mexico to stop human trafficking and human smuggling organizations.
    • Partnered with Mexico and Northern Triangle countries. VP Harris has taken a lead role in working with Mexico and Central American governments to launch initiatives and provide humanitarian support that increase economic opportunities, reduce crime, and empower young women.
    • Addressed root causes of migration and empowered local communities in the Northern Triangle (El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras by:
        • Funding initiatives to address lack of economic opportunity and crime concerns.
        • Supporting local partners. USAID launched a 3-year initiative to support local partners in the Northern Triangle to increase community resilience in the face of poverty, violence, poor governance, corruption, and climate change.
        • Increasing security in the region and cracking down on human smugglers in the US. Provided USAID trained police officers on domestic violence procedures, trained investigators and analysts on the prosecution of human smuggling cases, and State Department-supported partners identified human smugglers with outstanding warrants in the United States.

Facts about Immigrants:

    • 2nd generation immigrants are “among the strongest fiscal & economic contributors in the U.S.” They contribute about $1,700 per person/year compared to other native-born Americans who contribute $1,300 per year on average.
    • Undocumented immigrants pay an estimated $11.6 billion a year in taxes, according to the Institute on Taxation & Economic Policy.
    • Most economists agree that in spite of being a very big part of the labor force, immigrants have not come at the cost of either American jobs or American wages. In fact, immigrants often take jobs that Americans won’t.
    • According to Pew, the most important component of the growth in the working-age population over the next two decades will be the arrival of future immigrants.

LAST UPDATED ON SEPTEMBER 20TH, 2022