The Result of the US Election and What It Means for Immigrants

Migrants in the US and elsewhere can now breathe a little easier. After a long and hard campaign Joe Biden has gained the presidency of the most powerful nation in the world. He brings new hope with liberal immigration policies. Here we elaborate on what the Biden-Harris administration offers vis-à-vis immigration, and how it would impact the immigrant population in America.

Backbone of economic growth

Many researchers consider the immigrant community in America to be the supporting pillar of sustained economic growth. In a research paper published in April 2020 noted economists Chloe Smith and Pia Orrenius remarked that without migrants the US economy would struggle to grow. An ageing population would result in a decline in labor participation and productivity. Migrant workers fill this void. In their July 2020 policy brief, analysts from the National Foundation for American Policy similarly surmised that “…lower levels of legal immigrations carry significant consequences for Americans”.

Revocation of executive order suspending green cards

The US only allocates 1,40,000 green cards annually for employment-based immigration. These include visas for migrant workers’ family members. The National Immigration Forum estimates that there are presently 1.1 million foreign nationals in the US seeking green cards. The Trump administration suspended issuing green cards to migrants till December 31, 2020 through executive orders. Joe Biden promises to revoke the suspension. He further aims to work with Congress to increase the number of green cards issued every year. Aspirants waiting for their green cards can hope for the process to speed up greatly in the next couple of years.

Reforms in immigrant employment

There is every possibility that the Biden administration will support a program which lets city and county governments take the lead on immigration. Local governments would bring in people from all over the world on behalf of employers. Regional governments would also be able to request additional visas to be issued, if the employer organizations can prove the need. This should be no problem for Silicon Valley, which is facing a dire shortage of skilled workers. Thousands of Indians working in American tech firms send money to India with clockwork regularity, to support their families.

Revamped visa policies

The Biden administration would aim to reform the issue process for temporary visas as well. Biden has already been vocal about lifting the Trump administration’s suspension on H1-B visas (visas for skilled workers). There are also expectations about the easing of J1 visas (visas for exchange programs) and L1 visas (visas for executives in large corporations). There is no word yet from the Biden camp on how soon this might happen. However, when implemented, this would come as a respite to those seeking employment in technological and automotive industries.

Reversal of Muslim travel ban

The Trump administration placed an entry ban on travelers from certain Muslim nations including Iran, Iraq, Kyrgyzstan, Libya, Myanmar, Nigeria, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tanzania, Venezuela, and Yemen. This effectively shut the door to immigrants looking for work or refuge from persecution. Joe Biden has promised to rescind the travel ban and let citizens from these countries come to America for work and other purposes.

Revamped immigration policy

Biden has also mentioned on several occasions that his Day One agenda after he takes control of the White House on January 20, 2021 would be “to send a legislative immigration reform to Congress to provide a roadmap to citizenship to 11 million undocumented immigrants.” He also promised to unite immigrant children with their families. If Biden’s reformed bill passes, it would help hundreds of thousands of immigrant families working and living in the US.

But when?

Can all this really be made possible? Many analysts think it can. Donald Trump may still have administrative powers till January 20, 2021. He can still roll out more restrictive orders till then. However, Biden has vowed to reverse all Trump-imposed migration restrictions. Considering that most of them were passed through executive orders (rather than via Congress), rescinding them should be a walk in the park for the Biden administration.

A trending blog for the lifestyle and tech freaks