The incoming Biden Administration is faced with standard challenges that come with the job, in addition to a raging pandemic in a very divided country. Immigration reform will have stiff competition in getting President Biden’s attention.
As of this writing, Congress is also divided. Republicans still control the Senate, and without a Democratic win in both of Georgia’s runoff elections for the U.S. Senate, a massive overhaul of our immigration laws is likely out of reach. Even if both Democratic candidates win in Georgia, we’ll still have an evenly split Senate in which Vice President Kamala Harris will have to serve as the tiebreaker in any major legislation. Therefore any change in our immigration mechanism will have to be through multiple Executive Orders and legislation which would require minimum effort on the part of Congress.
On their website at https://buildbackbetter.gov, the Biden-Harris transition team has committed to the following actions, which can all be done without any Congressional involvement:
1. Lifting of the Muslim Travel Ban on Day 1;
2. Freezing of deportations for 100 days;
3. End Remain in Mexico or MPP;
4. Creation of a family separation task force to unify the separated children with their families;
5. Issuing new enforcement priorities;
6. Halt all border wall construction;
7. Enable asylum applicants to apply for asylum at the border while ensuring appropriate Covid safety precautions.
The above list is certainly a start. But clearly more needs to be done. My suggestion: Update the Registry date. Under the Registry program, people who have continuously resided in the U.S. since January 1, 1972 may apply for permanent residency if they are not criminals and are otherwise eligible for a green card. https://www.uscis.gov/green-card/green-card-eligibility/green-card-through-registry
1972 is an arbitrary date assigned by Congress in 1986. Let’s move that date to January 1, 1996, so we can legalize millions of our friends, families, neighbors, colleagues, and fellow human beings. This will go a long way in healing a deeply wounded nation and offer invaluable hope to folks who have lived in the shadows for way too long. It will also give our economy a shot of adrenaline so we can finally get to that infrastructure week we’ve been hearing about for years.