Some Good News for Immigrants
Yesterday, a new COVID relief bill was finally agreed upon by Congress. Among the measures, a $600.00 direct payment to everyone with a social security number and who either filed taxes or are minors of someone who filed taxes in the past two years. Even though this is only half of the direct stimulus checks sent out in April, there is one major difference: This time families of mixed status ... those in which one of the heads of household is either an American citizen or legal permanent resident but the other one isn’t, will also get checks. In the previous one, millions of frontline workers and their families were excluded.
And there are other reasons for immigrants with pending issues with immigration – or who have loved ones in that category – to hope for a better outlook. As mentioned before, Biden has promised to quickly overturn many of the immigration policies the Trump administration was able to implement via executive order. For starters, his pick for the DHS Secretary is Alejandro Mayorkas, a Cuban-American who is the son of Jewish Cuban refugees and, if confirmed by Congress, the first Hispanic American to lead the department. He already has plenty experience, since he was the head of the USCIS under the Obama immigration and was one of the creators of DACA. As the Washington Post states, “His nomination was a sign that Biden seeks a Homeland Security Chief that ... views immigrants as a benefit to the nation, the exact opposite of Trump’s view.”
Maryorkas expressed his own perspective of the significance of his nomination on Twitter, “When I was very young, the United States provided my family and me a place of refuge. Now, I have been nominated to be the DHS Secretary and oversee the protection of all Americans and those who flee persecution in search of a better life for themselves and their loved ones.”
Even so there will need to be wisdom, balancing, and patience in regard to rescinding the more than 400 executive actions that Trump implemented to tighten the US immigration system. Even though some can be done with a “stroke of a pen,” it will not be so easy in all cases... asylum cases being one of them.
Undoubtedly, Asylum cases, those seeking “refugee status” is one of the major concerns of immigration advocates. One policy, implemented by Executive order, that Biden could most likely quickly end is Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” policy, which requires migrants seeking asylum in the U.S. to wait in Mexico while their cases are processed, regardless of what country they’re coming from. Immigration advocates have argued that this policy is illegal and that it exposes those waiting to danger and deprives them of much needed humanitarian assistance.
However, that is only step one. The Biden administration will need to rebuild the entire structure to process asylum seekers in a human and orderly way which will not be an overnight fix. It is also important to note that at this time, there are approximately 1.2 million pending asylum cases, and, according to TRAC Immigration, a database run by Syracuse University, the average wait for an asylum seeker to have their day in court in 2020 was more than 800 days ... that is almost 2 ½ years. So though there are is hope for a better day ... some changes will require a little more time. Always take into account that if you or a loved one needs assistance in regard to their own immigration situation, having an experienced, caring immigration lawyer on your side can make a huge difference.