US Immigration Policies

5 Current US Immigration Policies Everyone Should Be Aware Of

In the intricate tapestry of U.S. immigration policy, the past few years have witnessed a series of dynamic shifts that have significantly shaped the landscape. From implementing Title 42 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic to the ongoing legal battles surrounding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, the nation finds itself at a critical juncture. The Public Charge Rule, the ebb and flow of refugee admissions, and the evolution of employment-based visas further contribute to the complexity of this multifaceted issue. As President Biden grapples with the delicate task of reform, the interplay of public health, humanitarian considerations, and economic needs adds layers of nuance to an already contentious discourse. This article delves into the critical facets of these immigration policies, examining their origins, impacts, and broader implications for the nation’s approach to immigration.

Title 42

Title 42 is a public health order issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in March 2020. It allows the U.S. government to expel migrants who cross the US-Mexico border without authorization, regardless of their nationality, asylum status, or immigration status. The order was issued to prevent the spread of COVID-19, resulting in more than 1.7 million expulsions since its implementation. President Biden has continued to enforce this policy despite facing legal challenges and criticism from human rights groups. In December 2021, Biden reinstated the Migration Protection Protocols, also known as the “Remain in Mexico” policy, which requires asylum seekers to wait in Mexico while the U.S. government processes their claims. Biden initially ended this policy in January 2021, but the Supreme Court later upheld it after a lawsuit by Texas and Missouri. The MPP affects about 28,000 asylum seekers enrolled in the program before being terminated1.

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals is a program that grants temporary protection from deportation and work authorization to certain unauthorized immigrants who came to the U.S. as children. President Obama established the program in 2012, and about 800,000 people, called Dreamers, have benefited from it. President Trump attempted to end the program in 2017, but several federal courts blocked him. President Biden has pledged to preserve and strengthen the program and proposed a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers as part of his comprehensive immigration reform bill. However, the program faces an uncertain future, as a federal judge in Texas ruled in July 2021 that the program is unlawful and ordered the government to stop accepting new applications. The case is currently pending before the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Public Charge Rule

The Public Charge Rule is a rule that denies green cards to immigrants who are likely to use public benefits such as Medicaid, food stamps, or housing assistance. The rule was expanded by the Trump administration in 2019 to include more types of benefits and to apply a stricter test of income, health, education, and English proficiency. Several states challenged him, and several federal courts temporarily blocked it. The Biden administration announced in March 2021 that it would stop enforcing the rule and return to the previous guidance that only considered cash assistance and long-term institutional care as public charge factors. However, the rule remains in effect until it is formally rescinded through a regulatory process. In some cases, the Public Charge Rule may affect an immigrant’s ability to get immigration bail bonds.

Refugee Admissions

Refugee Admissions is the number of refugees that the U.S. admits each year from around the world based on humanitarian grounds. The president determines the number after consulting with Congress. The Trump administration reduced the refugee cap to a historic low of 15,000 for fiscal year 2021, which ended on September 30, 2021. The Biden administration initially announced that it would keep the same cap but later revised it to 62,500 after facing backlash from refugee advocates and lawmakers. However, the U.S. only admitted about 12,000 refugees in fiscal year 2021, partly due to the ongoing pandemic and the challenges of rebuilding the refugee resettlement system. Biden has increased the refugee cap to 125,000 for fiscal year 2022, which started on October 1, 2021.

Employment-based Visas

Employement-based Visas allow foreign workers to come to the U.S. for temporary or permanent employment in various categories, such as skilled workers, professionals, investors, or entrepreneurs. The number and availability of these visas depend on the annual quotas, the demand from employers and workers, and the processing times of the government agencies. The Trump administration imposed several restrictions on employment-based visas, such as suspending certain visas during the pandemic, increasing the wage requirements for H-1B visas for high-skilled workers, and limiting the duration of visas for specific workers from countries with high rates of overstaying. The Biden administration has reversed some restrictions, such as lifting the visa suspension and withdrawing the wage rule. However, some restrictions remain, such as the duration limit and the ban on certain workers from countries with high COVID-19 cases. The Biden administration has also proposed to increase the number and diversity of employment-based visas as part of his immigration reform bill.

The Future of Immigration

In navigating the convoluted terrain of immigration policy, the United States is confronted with challenges that transcend mere legal frameworks. Title 42, DACA’s uncertain future, the Public Charge Rule, refugee admissions, and employment-based visas collectively underscore the need for a holistic and adaptive approach. The Biden administration’s stance on these issues reflects an intricate dance between safeguarding public health, upholding humanitarian values, and addressing economic imperatives. As the nation grapples with these complexities, it stands at a pivotal crossroads – an opportunity to shape an immigration narrative that is both compassionate and pragmatic. The outcomes of these policy dynamics will determine the fate of millions and resonate with the broader global conversation on immigration and human rights.