The Biden promise to immigrants – A dream or a reality?

January 22, 2021 2:39 PM

For immigrants who felt too scared to “hope” too battered to “wish” to be united with their family; return to their jobs or start a new life in a country that is built on the virtues of equality, opportunity and justice for all this might be the beginning of the silver lining.

Trump had declared a national emergency and many funds were diverted into building the wall at the border with Mexico. (File image)

By Nandika Handa

There has been much anticipation on how President Biden would set the ball rolling and alleviate all the pain caused to immigrants and families by what seemed like an onslaught by the preceding government.

“This is a great nation. We are good people. And over the centuries, through storm and strife, in peace and in war, we’ve come so far. But we still have far to go. We’ll press forward with speed and urgency, for we have much to do in this winter of peril and significant possibilities, much to repair, much to restore, much to heal, much to build, and much to gain.”

These words in his inaugural speech tugged at the heartstrings of many hoping to see the promise of their American dream renewed. Some hoped for the better and some were too wounded, too cynical to believe that the process of change would actually, commence.

For all those waiting with bated breath for some sort of and advent on reforms, a change of stance towards immigrants and the restoration of American values – January 2021 hailed good news. Seventeen executive actions have been put through by the Biden government on January 20th, 2021.

The executive actions addressed many issues that have been the focus of discussion ranging from wearing masks as a measure to curb COVID to immigration.

There has been a lot of conjecture on when and how immigrants will benefit from the switch in government and a lot of people have their future hanging in the balance.

One such group of people are those who are commonly known as the “dreamers” and have been able to build their lives in the USA under the protection of DACA (Deferred action for Childhood arrivals.) This memorandum is sought to – “Defer the removal of certain undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children, have obeyed the law, and stayed in school or enlisted in the military. DACA and associated regulations permit eligible individuals who pass a background check to request temporary relief from removal and to apply for temporary work permits. DACA reflects a judgment that these immigrants should not be a priority for removal based on humanitarian concerns and other considerations and that work authorization will enable them to support themselves and their families, and to contribute to our economy, while they remain.”

There are about 700,000 who fall under this category and being brought to the USA at a very young age know no other country but that. Trump tried to put an end to DACA in 2017.

The Biden government has passed an executive order to” preserve and fortify” DACA and has given a new lease of life to a large group of people in the USA by doing so.

Under the Trump administration there were travels bans placed on travellers especially from “Muslim” nations. The Biden government recognizes this as going against American values and recognizes in the plan that these bans are “Morally Wrong”. The new government has recognized that these bans were “a stain on national conscience” and are “inconsistent with the long history of welcoming people of all faiths and no faith at all.”

The democratic government has passed a proclamation on ending discriminatory bans on entry to the USA. With this proclamation, embassies have been ordered to start processing visas from the affected countries. The proclamation also states that there will be no prejudice against individuals who might’ve been denied a visa due to previous conditions. This proclamation could make a significant moment for a lot of people who have ties to the US but have been unable to enter and reunite with family who have been waiting for extended periods of time. This proclamation might calm the nerves of many who need to travel to the U.S legitimately but feel petrified to do so merely because of their last names and the way they appear.

Trump had declared a national emergency and many funds were diverted into building the wall at the border with Mexico. The Biden government has passed the “Proclamation on the Termination of Emergency With respect To the Southern Border of the United States and Redirection of Funds Diverted to Border Wall Construction.” With this proclamation, the construction of the wall along the border will stop and the government will also look into the federal funds that were diverted into the building of the wall.

For immigrants who felt too scared to “hope” too battered to “wish” to be united with their family; return to their jobs or start a new life in a country that is built on the virtues of equality, opportunity and justice for all this might be the beginning of the silver lining that is needed so desperately. The days to come should provide respite to other groups of immigrants and perhaps they will awake to positive news more often than they have in the Trump Era!

(The author is Bengaluru based Independent Immigration Consultant. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of Financial Express Online.)

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