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What Does the New Administration Mean for Immigrants and Refugees?

Information Updated as of 2/18/2021

A new administration brings hope for meaningful reforms to immigration laws and policies. But notarios and predatory attorneys often take advantage of that hope by claiming to assist noncitizens pursue permanent relief, like a Green Card.  It is important to have accurate and updated information. 

With the recent change of administration in Washington, a significant number orders, policies, and legislative reforms relating to immigrants and refugees have been signed, instituted, or otherwise proposed.  

Below is a summary of what we know so far.

Find the Right Help

  • For more information and to stay up-to-date, and to obtain referrals for free legal services, call the New Americans Hotline at (800) 566-7636, available Monday-Friday, 9:00 am-8:00 pm.
  • The wrong “help” can be harmful. Never pay a notario, travel agent, tax preparer, or form preparer to help with immigration work.  Filing the wrong forms is a waste of money and it could lead to your deportation/removal.
  • If something is too good to be true, then it probably is not true.

Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill (Congressional Proposal)

  • As of February 8, 2021, a comprehensive immigration reform bill HAS NOT been introduced by Congress.
  • A bill is an idea — it’s a starting point — and the introduction of a bill does not make it a law.
  • There is a legislative process where the bill must be introduced, discussed, negotiated, and approved by both the Senate and the House of Representatives.
  • This process takes time, and  because of the discussions and negotiations, the final draft will likely be very different from the first draft.
  • If the bill receives the required votes from both the Senate and House of Representatives, it is then presented to the President who signs it into law or vetoes it.  THERE IS NO CHANGE IN LAW YET.

Zero-Tolerance Policy and Family Separation  (Presidential Executive Order—January 2021)

  • Stops the Trump administration’s policy to arrest and charge noncitizens unlawfully entering the United States
  • Appoints a task force to identify all children who were separated from family between Jan. 20, 2017, and Jan. 20, 2021, and to facilitate reunification with families

Muslim Travel Ban (Presidential Executive Order – January 2021

  • Revokes the travel and visa bans applied to nationals of Eritrea, Iran, Libya, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar, Nigeria, North Korea, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tanzania, Venezuela, and Yemen

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) (Presidential Executive Order — January 2021)

  • Reenforces the Administration’s dedication to the DACA program, and orders that it be implemented as it was in effect in June 2012

Removal Priorities (Presidential Executive Order — January 2021)

  • Cancels the Trump administration’s Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States Executive Order
  • Orders a reevaluation of removal/deportation enforcement priorities

Asylum (Presidential Executive Order — January 2021)

  • Orders the review of agency asylum rules and polices adopted under the prior administration with directions to issue recommendations for rescission and modifications

Refugees (Presidential Executive Order — January 2021)

  • Orders the review of policies, guidance, and vetting protocol, in addition to programmatic expansion to also include individuals impacted by climate change

Northern Triangle (Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras) Family Reunification (Presidential Executive Order — January 2021)

  • Explores reinstituting and improving a prior program — Central American Minors (“CAM”) — to provide relief to minors in Central America
  • Considers steps to permit Northern Triangle nationals with approved family-based visa petitions to join family members in the U.S. on a case-by-case basis

Deferred Enforced Departure for Venezuelans (Presidential Executive Order — January 2021)

  • Temporarily pauses the removal/deportation of eligible Venezuelans in the U.S. and provides work authorization; however, the application process has not yet been released

Deferred Enforced Departure for Liberians (Presidential Executive Order — January 2021)

  • Extends Liberian Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) and its employment authorization for  eligible Liberians through June 30, 2022

Public Charge (Presidential Executive Order — January 2021)

  • Orders review of the public charge regulations promulgated under the prior administration
  • Reverses sponsor liability enforcement protocol

Application Processing (Presidential Executive Order — January 2021)

  • Requests U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to identify barriers to efficient and timely adjudication of pend- ing applications

Census (Presidential Executive Order — January 2021)

  • Reverses the previous administration’s policy of excluding undocumented individuals from the 2020 census count— this means that everyone will be counted

Border Wall (Presidential Executive Order — January 2021)

  • Cancels the prior administration’s national emergency declaration at the Southern Border and pauses construction on the border wall