Now that Biden is officially the president, his first 100 days has started and he has made some good progress in the area of immigration through several executive orders. First, he reversed the travel ban for applicants from thirteen (13) Middle Eastern and African countries that was put in place by President Trump in 2017. These countries will no longer be denied visas or required to jump through special “hoops” that are not required for other countries. The Biden administration also noted that the State Department would be reviewing plans for evaluating prior denials for requests under the prior ban and we will keep our readers informed of these changes.
Second, president Biden made it a priority for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Attorney General to figure out a solution for the DACA program that will hopefully create a permanent path to a green card and eventually citizenship. There is not yet much detail about the president’s wishes, but he is making this a priority for his administration. It is expected that the first change will be an extension of existing approvals to cover three years instead of two.
Probably the most significant change Biden has ordered through executive action is altering the priority of individuals Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will target for deportation. Those with immigration violations and criminal backgrounds will be targeted by ICE rather than anyone with immigration problems. This is very similar to what was in place under President Obama. This is significant because Trump treated all visitors in the US without permission or status the same regardless of the reason, they came across the attention of ICE. As an example, now a person arrested for driving without a license will not be treated as serious as someone who has been arrested for a drunk driving, domestic violence or drugs. This is only the beginning to the positive changes in store for those in the US without immigration papers.
One of the final actions by Trump before he left office was very good for those in the country from Venezuela. The last day of his presidency, Trump issued an order to provide a pathway for Venezuelans to be protected from deportation and to have the ability to obtain work permits, social security cards and driver’s licenses. This program is known as “Deferred Enforcement Departure” and is very similar to Temporary Protected Status (TPS). The program will stop any deportation actions against Venezuelans for 18 months as long as they qualify for the protection.
Although the application process is not yet in place, qualification for this protection will be for any Venezuelan living in the US on January 20, 2021 as long as that individual has not been convicted of a felony, 2 or more misdemeanors, not previously ordered to be removed or deported from the US or whose presence in the US will not endanger public safety. We will continue to keep our Venezuelan brothers and sisters informed of the application process with USCIS so that we can help them qualify and receive this important protection.