Washington, D.C. (January 21, 2021) – Today, Ayuda celebrates the dawn of a new day and the issuance of numerous executive orders, proposed legislation, and policy memoranda in the last 24 hours that will benefit our client communities.
First, the discriminatory travel bans primarily affecting Muslims and Africans have been rescinded. For years, many individuals have been denied their opportunities to even enter the United States, and too many families were kept separated as a result. It is long past time for this ban to end, but we celebrate its ending, nonetheless. Link here.
Second, the Biden Administration has issued a policy memorandum outlining several interim steps to protect the rights of immigrants immediately and pending further review of enforcement efforts. The interim protections include:
- Halting actual deportations for 100 days, with limited exceptions;
- Encouraging the use of prosecutorial discretion in exercising immigration enforcement authority at all levels, with a narrow focus of enforcement resources on only certain types of cases.
- Specifically, officials are to exercise discretion in deciding whether to: detain an individual, issue a charging document to an individual potentially removable from the United States, file with the court a previously issued charging document, continue or dismiss proceedings against individuals already in the process of immigration proceedings, and grant deferred action or parole to individuals in the United States.
Ayuda applauds the Administration’s efforts to encourage all individuals involved in immigration enforcement, at all stages of the process, to consider the options listed above, especially including decisions regarding whether to place individuals in removal proceedings, to dismiss removal proceedings, and to grant deferred action or parole to qualifying individuals.
Ayuda has seen our clients suffer in recent years due to draconian enforcement policies, and we look forward to a reasoned and case-specific approach for our clients moving forward. Link here.
Third, the Administration has proposed a comprehensive immigration reform bill that, if passed, would do several critical things for Ayuda’s client communities:
- Provide a pathway to citizenship for eligible individuals in the United States on or before January 1, 2021 as well as to certain individuals deported from the United States on or after January 17, 2017;
- Triple the annual U Visa* cap
- *U Visas are set aside for victims of crimes, and their immediate family members, who have suffered substantial mental or physical abuse while in the U.S. and who are willing to assist law enforcement and government officials in the investigation or prosecution.
- Eliminate the one-year filing deadline for asylum applications;
- Authorize funding for counsel for children and vulnerable individuals in the immigration system;
- Eliminate the three and ten year bars to entering the United States for individuals who previously accrued unlawful presence in the United States, opening the door to unify many families with individuals otherwise eligible for green cards or other status; and,
- Allow individuals eligible for green cards based on family relationships to enter the United States with temporary status while waiting for their priority date to become current (often a wait of many years).
In addition to these specific provisions, the proposed legislation would change the word “alien” to “noncitizen” in U.S. immigration laws. Ayuda welcomes this effort to recognize the humanity of immigrants to the United States.
The Administration took other important steps in its first hours as well, including reinstating Deferred Enforced Departure for Liberians. Link here.
Ayuda looks forward to working with our clients to make sure that they can access any relief provided and to working to elevate our clients’ voices to continue to inform US immigration law and policy to ensure that immigrants can, at long last, have every possible opportunity to thrive in the United States.