This week, we read about the Biden administration defending some of Trump’s immigration policies, a new plan for resettling Afghan refugees, and a DHS announcement that will expand opportunities for international students in STEM.
The Biden administration is defending some of Trump’s harsher immigration border policies in court. These policies have prevented asylum seekers from entering the U.S.
Experts are saying this move may be a way to ‘preserve tools to manage the border’ on the Biden administration’s part. These decisions aren’t fairing well with Republicans, who see Biden as an “open-borders” Democrat, despite the fact that this isn’t the case. On the other hand, several immigration officials have quit the administration. Additionally, many Democrats feel that the administration hasn’t done enough to get rid of Trump’s harsh immigration policies.
The Justice Department recently defended the Title 42 policy, citing health reasons. Title 42 is a controversial Trump-era policy that prevents noncitizens from entering the U.S. However, public health experts say that there’s no scientific rationale for this policy and that people can be safely processed at the border.
President Biden has taken action to undo many of Trump’s immigration policies, but defending Title 42 has ‘casted a cloud’ on these accomplishments.
Both the Biden and Trump administration have claimed that Title 42 is in place to protect U.S. citizens from the spread of COVID-19. Though public health experts have repeatedly argued that there’s no public health rationale for the policy.
“It is shameful that an administration that ran on a belief in science and welcoming people with dignity continues to manipulate an obscure public health rule to violate the basic human rights of asylum seekers. Scapegoating Black, indigenous, and other migrants of color as vectors of disease just serves as an example of the ongoing racism entrenched in our immigration system.” said Karla Marisol Vargas, senior attorney at the Texas Civil Rights Project, in a statement.
Additionally, though Biden criticized Trump’s use of family separation, the administration continues to practice it.
While the administration initially took measures to reunite many families, those efforts have been stunted. The administration rejected the idea of payouts of $450,000 to each separated family as compensation for the trauma and consequences of the separation. Many are frustrated and disappointed at the Biden administration’s lack of action on these issues.
The Biden administration has a potential plan to bring thousands of Afghans to the U.S. from Qatar. The administration is still tackling its response to the urgent withdrawal from Afghanistan. The biggest challenge is caring for the thousands of Afghans who have fled persecution from the Taliban and are seeking refuge in the U.S. Many of them helped the U.S. during the war in Afghanistan, which is why it’s so crucial that the administration helps to resettle them.
Administration officials are discussing plans for an expedited refugee process for Afghan nationals. This would speed up the resettling process, which can normally take two to five years.
While the administration has primarily used humanitarian parole to process the influx of Afghan nationals, this system is limited. It only provides protection from deportation and allows for work eligibility for two years. The new plan would provide Afghan applicants with a pathway to permanent residence.
Biden officials have said they are ‘confident’ the new vetting process would only take 30 days. However, obstacles such as COVID-19 will still be an added barrier to speeding up the process.
The Department of Homeland security recently announced a series of changes affecting immigrants in STEM fields. When Trump was in office, many people feared international students would no longer get to work on Optional Practice Training, (OPT). However, the practice was never eliminated, and now the Biden administration has expanded OPT eligibility in STEM fields.
DHS added 22 qualifying fields of study for OPT eligibility within STEM. The changes are important as they extend the opportunities for international talent and benefit the U.S. economy. A few years ago, experts did not anticipate extension for OPT for international students. However, the Biden administration sees attracting more talent in STEM fields as a positive for the economy, and a way to compete with China.
To learn more about the announcement and read the list of fields added, read our blog post on it here.