By Dev Banad Viswanath, Esq.
The 2020 US Presidential election has been a historic and painstakingly stressful event. We, as a country have been sending in our mail in ballots and absentee ballots, and early voting for well over 3 weeks or more, and then we had the traditional November 3rd election day voting, and by November 4th, we still did not have a clear victor as the next President of the United States. There were several states that were still left counting all the mail in ballots that had come in. The pure numbers of people who voted in this election was amazing! All in all, almost 150 million people voted. Roughly 76.5 million for former Vice President Biden, and 71.5 million for President Trump, along with another 2.5 million for other party candidates.
But it’s the Electoral College and votes obtained by the various states through the electoral college that matter to ultimately decide who will be the President of the United States. And it took till Saturday, November 7th, for the Associated Press and many other news outlets to finally declare Joe Biden the president-elect by winning several key states which brought him over the 270 electoral vote mark.
Now, it is true that President Trump contends that there was rampant voter fraud and that the election was actually not won by Biden, but the legal challenges ahead are yet to be seen as clear. And we assume, for purposes of this article, that in all likelihood, Joseph R. Biden, Jr. will be inaugurated as the President of the United States on January 20, 2021. Which begs the question, what could Immigration Policies and Actions look like under a President Biden Administration?
President-Elect Biden has already stated that he plans on repealing several standing Executive Orders that were issued by the current administration. I think, for immigration purposes, that surely means that any suspension orders passed by President Trump in relation to suspended visa processing of H1B visas, L1 visas or even Immigrant Visa (Green Card) applicants will likely be lifted if they are still in place (currently President Trump has kept many of his suspension orders to end on December 31st, 2020). Moreover, we may see the next administration do away with the enhance Public Charge rules to increase the burden on several types of visa and status applicants to prove they will not become a public charge.
Mr. Biden may also address the recent Administrative rules recently put out by the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Labor that would not only make proving H1Bs classification harder to obtain by raising the bar on what is needed to provide what is a specialty occupation, and how an employer-employee relationship is defined but also by vastly increasing prevailing wage rates to discourage the hiring of foreign nationals. I believe that a President Biden would put a stop to those rules if they are even in place by them and have the agencies repeal them if they are in effect. Because of the legal challenges already in place against them, I seriously doubt they will be in place by 1/20/21.
I also believe that certain rules placed upon asylum seekers which made it more difficult and, in some ways, just impossible for those seeking asylum to overcome the burdens placed in order to secure protection, will be repealed. Mr. Biden has already indicated the nature and role the US plays as being a role model for the world when it comes to protecting the integrity of asylum in the United States.
All things considered, I think we will also see a Biden Administration that will push for Comprehensive Immigration Reform or several key pieces of Immigration Legislation (like the DREAM Act, and Removal Reform, as well as Increased Foreign National Employment Options). I have no doubt that deportation and removal measures will be further developed and that rules on how individuals enter and are staying in the US will be made stricter to avoid Visa Overstay and violations. However, we can safely say that an America under Joe Biden will be far more welcoming of Immigrants and the idea of an American Dream, of a meritocracy, that anyone can come to this country and make it, may be restored. The next few months will be critical to understanding the steps ahead and our path for the next 4 years.