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Relating to the ongoing changes to immigration law, Federal Judge Drew Tipton of Texas blocked a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) policy that recently was out into practice by the Biden Administration that severely limited who immigration authorities can arrest and deport from the United States. The judge ruled in favor of the plaintiffs from the states of Texas and Louisiana, which argued that the DHS guidance is preventing U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (USCIS) from enforcing the law. The policy was announced last year by the Secretary of Homeland Security when he instructed immigration authorities to prioritize serious threats to public safety, national security and recent illegal border crossings. Lawyers for the Biden administration argued that the policy was a reasonable exercise of prosecutorial discretion and the best way to use DHS’s limited resources, but the judge believed it was an improper use of executive power.
Another policy change to immigration that is likely to meet with litigation in the near future was announced by the Biden administration on May 25, 2022. The Biden administration released a report to the district court in Washington indicating that USCIS intends on modifying its interpretation of a significant provision of immigration law relating to the enforcement of the three- and ten-year bars. According to the report, immigration will no longer require an applicant for a green card to spend their period of inadmissibility outside of the United States in order to be qualified for a green card. This is a significant departure from long-held U.S. immigration policy and will likely face significant opposition.
USCIS is in the process of finalizing a revised policy with DHS approval that will release new instructions to its agents for administrating this policy change. The release of this information in the near future will be highly important to many immigrants currently living in limbo. Although we do not yet know what immigration will require for those with bars to continue with their immigration process, USCIS already affirmed that currently it is not denying pending green card requests for those with violations or requiring applicants to file waiver applications. If this process becomes the new norm, it will have a significant impact on thousands of immigrants.
In another large step toward addressing other areas of immigration policy, President Biden recently announced an agreement with Latin American Leaders to address the problems with those attempting to migrate into the Unites States in an attempt to reduce the draw to the United States for illegal entries. At the “Summit of the Americas” on June 10th, President Biden and leaders of Latin American countries signed an agreement addressing the consequences of mass migration and making pledges to allow more people fleeing political and economic distress to cross their borders.
The agreement will commit the United States to take 20,000 refugees from Latin America during the next two years as well as an increase the number of seasonal worker visas from Central America and Haiti by 11,500. This increased number represents only a fraction of the number of illegal crossing attempts at the U.S. Southwestern border every day. Although other countries have agreed to step up their efforts to allow the entry of migrants into their countries before they reach the Unites States, it is not clear whether these governments will merely allow crossers to pass through to the United States or if they will actually attempt to accommodate their needs or offer protections to them.
As these new protocols and policy changes develop, it will be important for immigrants and their families to keep informed so they can take advantage of new opportunities. If you have questions about these ongoing changes, please contact our office to schedule a consultation. You can do this by calling our office at 616-805-3435 or by using the following link to schedule an appointment online: https://marvinlawoffice.com/schedule-a-consultation/