President Biden Orders Full Review of Trump Administration’s Immigration Policies

On February 2, 2021, President Biden issued an executive order requiring a full review of all immigration policy actions taken during the Trump Administration, including any regulations, policies and guidance limiting legal immigration and naturalization.

Among other things, President Biden ordered an interagency review by the Department of State (DOS), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and the Department of Justice (DOJ) of the Trump Administration’s expanded “public charge” rule.

Under U.S. immigration law, noncitizens are not admissible to the United States, if they are found to be a public charge.  In other words, with limited exceptions, a noncitizen can be denied permanent residence, a visa, or admission to the United States if they are found likely to become dependent on government assistance in the future. During the Trump Administration, public charge was significantly expanded, allowing a finding of public charge based on a range of factors, including noncitizen’s age, English language ability, level of education, work experience, and health, even if a noncitizen had never sought or received public benefits in the United States.

President Biden also revoked Trump’s May 23, 2019, executive order (“Enforcing the Legal Responsibilities of Sponsors of Aliens”), which was purportedly introduced to ensure agencies enforced the requirements that sponsors reimburse the government if the noncitizen they sponsored received public benefits they were not entitled to. President Biden also ordered a review of any investigations or compliance actions initiated under that order and, if necessary, a suspension of those investigations, as well as revised guidance on enforcement.

President Biden also announced a Task Force on New Americans to ensure immigrants, including refugees, are welcomed, supported, and integrated and included at the federal, state, and local level. The Task Force will include members of those agencies that implement policies affecting immigrant communities.  He also ordered the Secretary of State, Attorney General, and Secretary of Homeland Security to review existing regulations, orders, guidance, policies, and other agency actions that may be inconsistent with that policy, including those that impede access to immigration benefits and fair, efficient adjudication of those benefits, and those that fail to promote access to the legal immigration system

Finally, President Biden ordered the Secretary of State, Attorney General, and Secretary of Homeland Security to develop a plan for reducing processing times, reducing barriers, and increasing accessibility in the naturalization process, including reviewing current procedures for fingerprinting, background and security checks, interviews, and the civics and English language tests. This also includes facilitating the process for those who are members of the U.S. military and reviewing the expanded denaturalization and passport revocation practices of the Trump Administration.

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