President-elect Joe Biden has laid out an extensive, ambitious list of priorities for his first 100 days in office, including a variety of immigration-related proposals. According to reports, he plans to sign a flurry of executive orders immediately, in many cases to reverse Trump administration policies. Other Biden proposals may require new regulations or new legislation passed in Congress, unless the Congressional Review Act is invoked, which could allow any new regulations to be scrapped if Congress acts within 60 days.
Highlights of Plans for First 100 Days
- President-elect Biden plans to kick off two immigration-related actions through executive orders, which are among his top five priorities in his first days in office:
-Rescind “Muslim bans,” which he attributes to an “anti-Muslim bias” that “hurts our economy, betrays our values, and can serve as a powerful terrorist recruiting tool.”
-Reinstate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
- He wants to work with Congress to increase the number of permanent, work-based immigration visas that are responsive to macroeconomic conditions. For example, mechanisms would be put in place to temporarily reduce the number of visas during times of high U.S. unemployment. He would also “exempt from any cap recent graduates of PhD programs in STEM [science, technology, engineering, and mathematics] fields in the U.S. who are poised to make some of the most important contributions to the world economy.” He said he believes that foreign graduates of U.S. doctoral programs “should be given a green card with their degree and that losing these highly trained workers to foreign economies is a disservice to our own economic competitiveness.”
- He would also like to work with Congress to provide a path to legalization for long-term agricultural workers in the United States and long-term temporary protected status/deferred enforced departure recipients, among other immigration reforms.
- He plans to “end workplace raids” and “protect sensitive locations from immigration enforcement actions” to ensure that no person is “afraid to seek medical attention, go to school, their job, or their place of worship for fear of an immigration enforcement action.”
These are just a few of the many proposals President-elect Biden has pledged to kick off in the first 100 days.
Regional Solutions for Regional Migrations
Other than comprehensive immigration reform, one of his most ambitious plans is for a comprehensive, multinational, four-year regional strategy to address factors driving migration from Central America.
This effort will include meeting with regional leaders to come up with solutions for growing numbers of people “fleeing violence and a lack of opportunity.” Countries mentioned in the plans include El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Canada, Belize, and Costa Rica.
Political Horizon and Outlook
The fate of Senate control remains uncertain as of this writing, so it’s unclear how far some of these plans can be advanced, especially comprehensive immigration reform, which has languished for years. But as noted above, there is much the President can do through other means.
In July, the Biden campaign released results from its Biden-Sanders unity task forces, which included 110 pages of policy recommendations for which, the report states, Biden does not need permission. President-elect Biden has committed to some but not all of the proposals in the report, which reinforces the idea permeating the Biden plans of “righting the wrongs of the Trump Administration.” Among those proposals in the report that Biden also pledges to advance are termination of the “discriminatory travel and immigration bans that disproportionately impact Muslim and African people,” inviting “those whose visas have been denied under these xenophobic and un-American policies to re-apply to come to the United States,” reinstating DACA, ending workplace raids, and providing a “roadmap to citizenship” for undocumented workers “who are an essential part of our economy and of the fabric of our nation.” In the Biden-Sanders report, the latter effort calls for fast-tracking the process for workers essential to the pandemic response and recovery efforts, including health care workers, farmworkers, and others.
Overall, the Biden plans are clearly very ambitious. Progress in at least some areas seems certain where Biden will have authority to proceed. Other aspects will require more effort, which could approach herculean depending on the balance of power in the Senate. In any event, the new administration intends to advance quickly on many fronts, wherever it can. Fasten your seatbelt. A new day is dawning.
Contact your WR attorney for advice in specific situations.
- “The Biden Plan for Securing Our Values as a Nation of Immigrants,” https://joebiden.com/immigration/
- “The Biden Plan to Build Security and Prosperity in Partnership With the People of Central America,” https://joebiden.com/centralamerica/
- “A Biden Win is a Win for International Students in the U.S.—Here’s Why,” Study International, https://www.studyinternational.com/news/biden-international-students-in-the-us/
- “The 277 Policies for Which Biden Need Not Ask Permission,” The American Prospect, https://prospect.org/day-one-agenda/277-policies-biden-need-not-ask-permission/
- Biden-Sanders Unity Task Force Recommendations, https://joebiden.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/UNITY-TASK-FORCE-RECOMMENDATIONS.pdf
- “Biden Plans These 5 Executive Orders,” Forbes, https://www.forbes.com/sites/zackfriedman/2020/11/08/biden-plans-these-5-executive-orders/?sh=6f77ab5c346b