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NYT: Biden Goes To Make US Immigration Easier, Faster And Cheaper

Documents received The New York Times, testify to President Biden's far-reaching efforts to overhaul the immigration system and undo much of his predecessor's legacy.

Photo: Shutterstock

If President Biden gets his way, immigrating to the United States will soon be much easier. There will be shorter and simpler forms and job seekers will have fewer security challenges to overcome. Foreigners will have more opportunities to reunite with their families and more chances of obtaining work visas.

The 46-page draft, obtained by The New York Times, outlines the Biden administration's plans to dramatically expand the legal immigration system, including a methodical halt to efforts by former President Donald Trump, who cut the flow of foreign workers, families and refugees by erecting procedural barriers.

Due to Trump's immigration policies, the average time it takes for employer-sponsored green cards to be approved has doubled. Filling out applications for citizenship has increased by 2014 percent since 80 and amounted to more than 900 cases. The approval period for the U-Visa program, which gives immigrants who want to help the police, legal status, has increased from five months to about five years.

In almost all cases, immigration to the United States has become harder, more expensive, and lasted longer over the past four years.

And while Biden made it clear during his presidential campaign that he intends to undo much of his predecessor's immigration legacy, the plan offers new details on how far-reaching the effort will be - not only rolling back Trump's policies, but also closing backlogs and delays. who have persecuted previous presidents.

The plan, dated May 3, titled “DHS (Department of Homeland Security) Plan to Restore Confidence in Our Legal Immigration System,” lists many initiatives to open up the country to more immigrants, fulfilling the president’s promise to ensure that America recognizes its “character as a nation of opportunity and hospitality. "

“Significant changes need to be made to truly open up all the opportunities for legal immigration,” said Felicia Escobar Carrillo, chief of staff, US Citizenship and Immigration Services, of the effort to reshape Trump's agenda. "Just like they took a broad approach to closure, I think we want to take a broad approach to opening up legal pathways that were always available but that they tried to block."

On the subject: How Biden's Administration Helps Immigrants Obtain US Citizenship: Important Innovations

Since taking office four months ago, Biden has struggled with a historic surge in Central American child and adolescent migration that has prompted some Republicans to accuse the president of opening the country's borders to people trying to enter illegally. The White House denies these charges.

In fact, Biden really wants to open up the country to more immigrants. Its ambitions, reflected in the project, are to restore and expand opportunities for foreigners to enter the United States, but to do so legally.

The seven-section document provides detailed policy proposals to help more foreigners move to the United States, including highly skilled workers, victims of human trafficking, American overseas families, Canadian-born American Indians, refugees, asylum seekers, and workers. farms. Immigrants who apply online may pay fewer or even no fees in an attempt to “lower barriers” to immigration. And the rules will be revised to "encourage the full participation of immigrants in our civilian life."

Even with a tighter and slower immigration system, about 1 million people received green cards in 2019, the last full year before the pandemic. Most have waited for years. In the last year of Obama's rule, 1,2 million people received green cards.

But if Biden does what the document says, he will go further and dramatically increase opportunities for foreigners from all over the world to come to the United States, supporting sustainable immigration, even as political debate continues to rage over the issue for decades.

Most of the changes could have been put into practice without enacting Biden's proposed overhaul of national immigration laws, which would provide a path to citizenship for millions of undocumented people living in the United States, but stalled in a highly divided Congress. While polls show a majority of Americans support rising immigration, many Republican voters have readily supported Trump's more restrictive policies.

White House officials declined to comment directly on the Department of Homeland Security's plan, saying such documents go through many stages and that decisions on concrete steps on legal immigration issues remain in the pipeline. But they said the president does indeed intend to largely lift the restrictions imposed by his predecessor.

These efforts will take time and have not yet caught the attention of the public as much as the wave of crossings on the southwest border. But conservative activists, who have been clamoring for lower levels of legal immigration for years, vow to fight to stop Biden and make him pay the political price for his actions.

"They just want to get people here," said Kenneth Cuccinelli, a former Virginia attorney general who served as Trump's head of Citizenship and Immigration Services. "Under them, the immigration system does not work in the interests of America and, moreover, not in the interests of ordinary Americans."

On the subject: Biden's administration agreed to receive 250 asylum-seekers daily

Most studies have shown that legal immigration to the United States benefits the country's economy, especially at a time when population growth is slowing down. But Cuccinelli and others who advocate tough restrictions on immigration say allowing foreigners to compete for jobs - especially when the country is still recovering from an economic downturn - will hurt the prospects for the American economy and citizens.

“The number one challenge for immigration services is to make sure that immigration does not harm Americans,” said Roy Beck, founder of NumbersUSA, a group focused on much lower levels of legal immigration.

Guided by this conviction, Cuccinelli began transforming the state immigration system during the Trump administration, transforming his agency from a service providing benefits to foreigners to a "verification agency", in part by imposing numerous restrictions on immigrant asylum and trying to raise fees.

Increased checks, as well as travel restrictions imposed during the pandemic, helped to achieve the result the Trump administration was seeking: the influx of immigrants has slowed significantly as it has become much more difficult to obtain legal permission to enter the United States.

With fewer immigrants coming to the country, there is less money to fund the Citizenship and Immigration Service, which is almost entirely supported by fees paid by immigrants. Restoring the agency to full capacity is at the heart of Biden's efforts to expand legal immigration, according to the document and interviews with administration officials.

A central element of the plan is to bridge the gap in the immigration system.

The administration plans to expedite the processing of immigration applications by expanding virtual interviews and electronic filing, as well as limiting requests for evidence from applicants. Biden approached Cass Sunstein, a former Obama administration official and law scholar at Harvard Law School, with a request to change the immigration system so that it is "more efficient and less burdensome" than it has been in recent decades, by "reducing paperwork and other administrative requirements ”.

Biden wants to restore opportunities for expatriate workers through the existing H-1B visa program, which targets workers with specialized skills. The administration also intends to create new opportunities for foreign entrepreneurs who want to "open new businesses and create jobs for American workers."

Officials are working on a regulation that could allow migrants to seek asylum in the United States if they are victims of domestic violence or their relatives have been persecuted. During the Trump era, Attorney General William Barr refused to grant asylum to those who claimed they deserved it for these reasons.

Biden is also seeking to expand immigration opportunities for LGBT refugees from countries where they are persecuted or where same-sex marriage is not recognized.

In addition, he wants to update a program that provides a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who help law enforcement by collaborating with the police or testifying in court.

You may be interested in: top New York news, stories of our immigrants and helpful tips about life in the Big Apple - read it all on ForumDaily New York

The waiting list for the U-Visa program is inflating, leaving crime victims and survivors of domestic violence vulnerable to rapists who may threaten to report them for deportation if they continue to talk to the police. This was stated by Leslie Orloff, director of the National Immigrant Women Advocacy Project at the American University. The Biden administration is considering extending the protection to immigrants who cooperate even before they are on the official visa waiting list.

“They understand the danger to these victims,” Orloff said.

Critics say the Biden administration is ignoring the negative consequences of its efforts. The H-1B program has been used as a loophole for technology companies to import cheap foreign workers to compete for jobs. Providing shelter for victims of domestic violence can open the door to the admission of millions of additional people. And some Republicans say Biden should not relax screening for foreigners, though officials insist they will continue to screen them for terrorism and other risks.

As the Biden administration pushes for change, officials are willing to use emergency rules to avoid a lengthy regulatory process, much like Trump formulated his own agenda. But it could make Biden's immigration legacy so that it can be overturned by a Republican president in the future.

“The question is how to do it in such a way that it’s not so easy to flip next time,” said Doug Rand, founder of Boundless Immigration, a Seattle-based technology company that helps immigrants obtain green cards and citizenship.

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