Immigration update for August 20, 2021

The last few weeks have seen some major changes to the immigration landscape, from the federal ruling threatening DACA’s existence, to the significant rule changes proposed by Biden this week. Today’s blog will address those changes, as well as what applicants can do to build their case.

First up on the agenda: a proposed rule change for asylum-seekers.

Asylum Rule Change on the Horizon?

There are more apprehensions taking place at the border than at any other time since 2000. In July, 210,000 people were apprehended at the border, including 19,000 unaccompanied minors. To deal with record numbers and the rising risk of Delta variant spread, the Biden administration has been continuing a Trump policy called “Title 42”: sending away migrants at the border without allowing them to apply for asylum. Immigrant advocates have called this both inhumane and illegal.

However, a new Biden proposal would allow more people to apply for asylum while clearing up the years-long immigration backlog created by the Trump administration. Under his proposed rule, asylum cases would be initially heard and ruled on by USCIS asylum officers rather than an immigration judge. Then, if that case is denied, it could be heard by an immigration judge on appeal.

“Individuals who are eligible will receive relief more swiftly, while those who are not eligible will be expeditiously removed,” DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said about the rule. While the rule as a whole seems promising, “expeditious removal” calls into question how asylum-seekers will be able to appeal their cases.

The Biden administration hopes the rule change would not only speed up processing of asylum cases, but also alleviate the serious shortage of immigration judges that has led to a backlog in the immigration courts.

Unfortunately, the rule change would not be implemented for months, if it’s implemented at all. The rulemaking process stipulates a long comment period to allow the public to voice their opinion of the rule change. However, that also gives supporters the opportunity to voice their support, which could be helpful in getting it approved.

New USCIS Director Breaking Boundaries

The American Immigration Lawyers Association is pleased to hear that the Senate has confirmed the new Director of the USCIS, Ur Mendoza Jaddou. Ms. Jaddou is the first woman and the first person of Arab and Mexican descent to run the USCIS in its entire 20-year history. “To my mind Ms. Jaddou may be the most experienced and qualified person ever nominated to lead USCIS," said AILA President Allen Orr, Jr. in a statement.

Our New Jersey immigration lawyers have discussed on our blog before how the USCIS has been transformed from a service-providing agency into an immigration obstruction. Ms. Jaddou’s confirmation should be a sign to immigrant advocates nationwide that the USCIS may return to its roots as a service agency, not an arm of law enforcement or a block to immigrant applicants.

How Could Budget Reconciliation Get Immigration Reform Passed?

The US Citizenship Act, the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, and the American Dream and Promise Act of 2021—the bulk of the Biden administration’s promised immigration reforms—have all stalled in the Senate. Without a two-thirds vote, Democrats have limited options to pass sweeping immigration reforms that would improve millions of lives. However, an option they do have is passing them using budget reconciliation.

Under budget reconciliation, Democrats could pass these policies using a simple majority vote. With 50 votes in the Senate (plus Vice President Harris' tie-breaking vote), the Democrats have the ability to wield their slim majority to win major victories for the immigration community. All they would need to do is ensure their policies pass the Byrd rule, which isn’t difficult: in 2005, the Republicans managed to pass an immigration bill under budget reconciliation by adding a $500 fee to employment-based visa petitions.

What Can Immigrants Do to Get Their Applications Approved?

The political landscape for immigrants has changed since Biden was elected, but things are still constantly shifting. The best way to fight for your own case (or your loved one’s case) is to call a lawyer to discuss your options. Our New Jersey immigration attorneys have deep ties to our immigrant communities here in Union City and beyond, fighting for Dreamers, workers, and families since 1987. If you want to know what your options are regarding visas, citizenship, or asylum, speak with us today in a confidential consultation.

Call (800) 909-8129 or contact us using the short contact form on this page. Se Habla Español.