How President Biden Is Changing Life For NYC-Area Immigrants


Within the opening hours of his presidency, President Biden took motion to not simply reverse the anti-immigrant insurance policies of the final 4 years, however liberalize all facets of a system lengthy thought-about damaged. Biden’s strikes may have broad impression on new immigrants, long-time undocumented residents, and households with family members of blended immigration standing all through the New York and New Jersey space.

Listed below are 5 ways in which Biden is straight away altering the immigration system:

The ‘Muslim Ban’ Is No Extra

Biden signed an order final evening that ends what was referred to as the “Muslim Ban,” Trump’s 2017 govt order that grew to become the topic of quite a few lawsuits and nationwide airport protests, together with at JFK. It will definitely utilized to 13 nations, most of that are majority-Muslim.

Biden’s order says the secretary of state shall direct all embassies and consulates to renew visa processing in these nations and report again in 45 days on a plan for “expeditiously” processing functions. It additionally requires reconsidering individuals whose functions had been denied in the course of the Trump years.

Linda Sarsour, a Brooklyn-based, Palestinian-American activist and co-founder of the group MPower, stated 41,000 visas had been denied by the earlier administration. However with COVID-19 persevering with to forestall a lot worldwide journey, she stated advocates are ready for particulars. “How briskly can we begin operationalizing this rescinding of the Muslim Ban?” she requested. ”All Joe Biden did yesterday was signal a chunk of paper.”

New York Metropolis Immigrant Affairs Commissioner Bitta Mostofi stated she is aware of college students whose educations had been interrupted and households who had been separated by the journey ban, harming town’s economic system. She stated it’s critically necessary that the plan for taking a look at individuals whose visas had been denied is “equitable and truthful in resolving what was a stain on the method.”

(Virtually) No Deportations For 100 Days — And Fewer ICE Arrests

A Division of Homeland Safety memorandum issued on Biden’s first day in workplace bans most deportations for 100 days whereas a evaluate is performed of Immigration and Customs Enforcement insurance policies. The memo applies to virtually all immigrants with closing deportation orders, besides for individuals who arrived after November 1st, and people suspected of terrorism.

On the similar time, ICE is reversing its priorities for arrests. The Biden Administration rescinded a 2017 Trump Administration memo that allowed all immigrants with out paperwork to be arrested, detained, and deported. The company will as an alternative give attention to those that are deemed nationwide safety threats or these convicted of aggravated felonies.

For advocates who see the detention of individuals on immigration violations — a coverage which solely started in massive numbers 25 years in the past — as unjust, the brand new measures don’t go far sufficient. Detention Watch Community, a nationwide coalition of immigrant advocates, stated in a press release that the checklist of crimes thought-about “aggravated felonies” can embody minor offenses, like shoplifting.

“Immigrants and refugees with felony convictions mustn’t face further punishment of detention and deportation due to the place they had been born,” the assertion stated. The community additionally stated that immigrants ought to instantly be launched from detention, given the unfold of the coronavirus behind bars.

About 500 immigrants from New York and New Jersey at the moment are held at county jails in New Jersey and upstate New York, and at a privately-run detention heart in Elizabeth, NJ. The detainee inhabitants nationwide is now at historic lows as a result of coronavirus-related releases and a discount in arrests for the reason that onset of the pandemic.

‘Dreamers’ Are Right here To Keep

Deferred Motion for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) was created in the course of the Obama administration and covers greater than 650,000 undocumented immigrants, referred to as Dreamers, who had been delivered to the U.S. as youngsters. They embody roughly 75,000 DACA recipients and DACA-eligible New Yorkers within the metropolis, in accordance with the Mayor’s Workplace of Immigrant Affairs.

DACA granted recipients work authorization and safety from deportation. The U.S. Supreme Courtroom rejected the Trump administration’s efforts to abolish this system, and a federal choose in New York ordered the total restoration of DACA final November, however a lone problem to it continues in Texas.

One other considered one of Biden’s govt orders states that immigrants with DACA “shouldn’t be a precedence for removing primarily based on humanitarian issues and different issues, and that work authorization will allow them to assist themselves and their households, and to contribute to our economic system, whereas they continue to be.”

This was a welcome reduction to Eliana Fernandez, one of many New York plaintiffs who sued to maintain DACA.

“I’ve been residing beneath the fixed risk of being separated from my youngsters because the Trump administration viciously tried to place an finish to the DACA program,” stated the 33-year-old mom of two who lives in Shirely, Lengthy Island.

Fernandez got here to the U.S. from Ecuador when she was simply 4 years outdated to hitch her dad and mom. She’s an organizer with Make the Highway New York, which was additionally a plaintiff within the go well with that went to the U.S. Supreme Courtroom. She stated she’s now dedicated to lobbying Congress to offer a path to citizenship for all undocumented immigrants.

Protections For Liberians

This narrowly crafted Biden govt order applies to 1000’s of immigrants who misplaced their work authorization this month.

Civil wars within the West African nation between 1989-2003 brought about lots of of 1000’s of Liberians to go away their nation. New York Metropolis now has one of many largest Liberian communities within the U.S., with most residing on Staten Island.

The U.S. gave these immigrants a type of non permanent safety from deportation known as Deferred Enforcement Departure (DED), which needed to be renewed each few years. Some conservatives argued it wasn’t wanted anymore. President Trump then ready to part it out by March of 2020.

However about 4,000 DED recipients who’ve lived within the U.S. since 2014 nonetheless have a path to citizenship. Final 12 months, the pandemic compelled Congress to increase their inexperienced card utility interval till December of 2020. Nonetheless, their work authorization lapsed on January tenth.

Biden’s order restores work authorization for these Liberirans, together with safety from deportation till June of 2022.

David Dann, who runs the group Liberians in NYC, stated there are greater than 10,000 Liberians within the metro area. He stated most of them have authorized standing, like himself. However he estimates as much as a thousand may have misplaced their work authorization this month.

Most work within the healthcare trade as nurses or dwelling well being aides, Dann stated. Permitting them to maintain working to assist their households is important, he defined, as a result of, “they’re not even eligible to get any social help, you understand, welfare, unemployment or something of that standing.”

On Deck: Path To Citizenship For 11 Million Residents

Biden is spending his early political capital and slim Democratic management of Congress to push a invoice that will make historic reforms to the immigration system. However getting the U.S. Citizenship Act handed won’t be simple.

The invoice gives a path to citizenship for an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants residing in the USA who clear a vetting course of, with an eight-year runway for Inexperienced Card eligibility after which citizenship. These with short-term protections that Trump sought to strip — like Non permanent Protected Standing and Deferred Motion for Childhood Arrivals — may grow to be residents in 5 years.

To discourage the movement of migration from the south, the invoice gives cash for the Central American nations that migrants flee as a result of points starting from gang violence to governmental oppression. And it creates workplaces in these nations for displaced migrants to use for asylum protections in the USA and different secure nations.

The invoice additionally will increase the variety of visas allowed for residents of different nations, increasing authorized immigration.

Below the invoice, the phrase “alien” could be eradicated from federal legal guidelines and paperwork, and changed with “noncitizen” — simply as New York Metropolis did final 12 months.

“Not will we dehumanize the undocumented,” stated Democratic New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez, the lead sponsor of the invoice within the senate.

Notably, and to the consternation of some immigration activists, the invoice doesn’t abolish Immigration and Customs Enforcement, nor does it dismantle the system of detention that places tens of 1000’s of immigrants in native jails and personal prisons. However Menendez referred to unspecified components of the invoice that will strengthen options to detention. One different that the federal government already employs is issuing monitoring ankle bracelets to these in deportation proceedings as an alternative of locking them up.

The invoice requires 60 votes to move within the Senate, which implies 9 Republicans must assist the measure. In a name with supporters of the invoice at the moment, Menendez acknowledged that success will probably be tough. However he repeatedly requested the enterprise neighborhood to get behind the invoice, indicating that he believes interesting to financial pursuits might be the important thing to unlocking GOP assist.

“I believe there’s a ethical crucial, I believe there’s a nationwide safety crucial, however for individuals who aren’t moved by both of these imperatives let me make an financial crucial,” Menendez stated, citing statistics exhibiting that immigrants assist the tax base and make up an enormous proportion of the important workforce.

Beth Fertig is a senior reporter masking immigration, courts, and authorized affairs at WNYC. You’ll be able to observe her on Twitter at @bethfertig.

Matt Katz reviews on air at WNYC about immigration, refugees, hate, and nationwide safety. You’ll be able to observe him on Twitter at @mattkatz00.