On February 2, 2021, President Biden made new announcements about the Mexico-U.S. border, asylum, family separation, the citizenship process, and more.
Most of these announcements do not make immediate changes to the immigration system. Instead, they are “executive orders” that tell different government agencies to propose plans for change. We do not know how long it will take before these executive orders result in actual changes.
Here are some of the new priorities that were included in 3 different executive orders:
- End harmful border policies. President Biden ordered the government to review Trump Administration policies that have prevented many asylum seekers from entering the United States. We hope that many harmful border policies will end quickly because of this review.
- Improve protections for asylum seekers fleeing gangs and domestic violence. President Biden ordered the government to suggest changes to the rules about asylum, especially protections for people fleeing gangs and domestic violence.
- Consider specific programs for immigrants from Central America. President Biden ordered the government to propose possible programs for children, asylum seekers, and other immigrants from Central America. These programs might allow more people to apply for U.S. immigration status while they are still living in El Salvador, Guatemala, or Honduras.
- Reunite families who were separated at the border. President Biden ordered the government to create a team to find children who were separated from their parents at the border between January 2017 to January 2021. This new team would help the children reunite with their families.
- Review the “public charge” rule. The public charge rule makes it hard for some immigrants who use public benefits to eventually become lawful permanent residents in the U.S. (The rule does not apply to all immigrants or all kinds of benefits—read more here.) President Biden ordered the government to review the public charge rule and communicate more clearly about how it works.
- Improve other immigration processes, such as citizenship. President Biden ordered the government to propose changes to make the overall immigration process faster and less confusing. This might include reducing the fees for different immigration applications, including the application to become a U.S. citizen.
We do not yet know what specific actions the government will take in response to these orders, but we will keep this website updated with news!
Note: This information is not a substitute for advice from an attorney.