While the Biden administration’s take on immigration initially seemed to be the opposite of his predecessor’s, it’s a bit more nuanced. Our Practical Law attorney-editors discuss what that means for attorneys and employers.
What do the immigration policy changes mean for immigration attorneys?
Navigating intricate changes may make an already-complex practice area even more complicated. From humanitarian issues likes refugees to family unification to employment at all skills levels, immigration law has presented challenges to the U.S. practically and politically from our very roots to the present day. Many presidential administrations have attempted fixes to our immigration system, with limited success.
A compromise on immigration has been out of reach for decades. One reason for the limitations is the breadth of issues encompassed by immigration and the complex, seemingly unrelated interests represented by those issues. Any chance to achieve the long-sought goal for comprehensive immigration reform revolves around building enough unity in important common interests to have all parties meet somewhere in the middle. Essentially, comprehensive reform likely requires stronger enforcement in balance to stronger immigration benefits.
How have the first 100 days impacted immigration?
The Biden administration’s first 100 days of action on immigration is clearest seen in comparison to the Trump administration that preceded it. A major component of the Trump administration’s immigration goals was to limit immigration. Most of President Biden’s early actions on immigration have been to rescind or repudiate the policies introduced and embedded by President Trump’s administration throughout the immigration system. That includes rescinding President Trump’s key executive actions on immigration and the administration’s rule redefining the entry and admission bar for public charges.
The Department of Homeland Security and its sub-agencies responsible for immigration (principally U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and US Customs and Border Protection (CBP)) have also rescinded more restrictionist policies and reverted to or introduced policies that are more benefits-oriented.
Will immigration policy changes affect employers?
Ultimately, the more pro-immigration policies are likely to benefit employers that sponsor foreign workers. However, there are warning signs that the Biden administration may retain or introduce rules or policies that are more restrictionist or enforcement-minded than expected. For example, the administration retained the high premium processing fee introduced in 2020 (more than double what it was in 2018) and delayed, but did not withdraw, rules to redefine H-1B selection by wage level and a DOL rule increasing prevailing wages for immigration matters. Employers and their counsel must remain engaged advocates for immigration.
Learn more about Biden’s first 100 days
To learn more about evolving immigration policies and other matters impacting lawyers and employers, watch our webcast, A conversation with Practical Law attorney-editors on some of the impact of Biden’s first 100 days.