WASHINGTON: As part of his efforts to ensure that the legal immigration system operates fairly and efficiently, US President Joe Biden signed an executive order on Tuesday to review the policies of the previous administration, including that of the public charge.
The review of the existing policies and the subsequent recommendations coming from 60 to 180 days from various federal agencies are likely to end up in benefitting hundreds and thousands of Indian professionals in realising their dream of citizenship of the United States.
"The federal government should develop welcoming strategies that promote integration, inclusion and citizenship, and it should embrace the full participation of the newest Americans in our democracy," Biden said in one of the three executive orders he signed on Tuesday.
The president told reporters at the White House that his executive orders are about how America is safer, stronger, more prosperous when it has a fair, orderly and humane legal immigration system.
"Today we are going to work to undo the moral and national shame of the previous administration that literally, not figuratively, ripped children from the arms of their families, their mothers and fathers at the border and with no plan, none whatsoever to reunify the children who are still in custody and their parents," he said.
The first executive order was on creating a task force, chaired by the Secretary of Homeland Security, to reunify families, which will work across governments to find parents and children separated by the prior administration.
The second executive order develops a strategy to address the root causes of migration across the borders and creates a humane asylum system, including directing the DHS to take steps to end the Migrant Protection Protocols programme, which had led to a humanitarian crisis in northern Mexico.
"The third executive order promotes immigrant integration and inclusion and ensures that our legal immigration system operates fairly and efficiently by instructing agencies to review the public charge rule and related policies," White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters at her daily news conference.
Biden, in his third executive order, said over four crore foreign-born individuals live in the US and millions more Americans have immigrants in their families or ancestry.
"New Americans and their children fuel our economy, working in every industry, including healthcare, construction, caregiving, manufacturing, service, and agriculture.
They open and successfully run businesses at high rates, creating jobs for millions, and they contribute to our arts, culture and government, providing new traditions, customs, and viewpoints," he said.
They are essential workers helping to keep the economy afloat and providing important services to Americans during a global pandemic.
They have helped the US lead the world in science, technology and innovation.
And they are on the frontlines of research to develop COVID-19 vaccines and treatments for those afflicted with the deadly disease, Biden asserted.
Among other things, the review seeks to identify appropriate agency actions, if any, to address concerns about the current public charge policies' effect on the integrity of the nation's immigration system and public health, and recommend steps that relevant agencies should take to clearly communicate current public charge policies and proposed changes, if any, to reduce fear and confusion among the impacted communities.
The executive order is in addition to the slew of similar orders signed by Biden on the first day of his administration and the citizenship bill that he has sent to the Congress.
The bill among other things proposes to eliminate the per-country quota in Green Card allocation, a move that will benefit hundreds and thousands of Indian immigrants.
The Biden Administration has also decided not to pursue the move of the previous Trump Administration to rescind the policy of giving work authorisation to spouses of H-1B visa holders.
The move has been welcomed by legal Indian immigrants.
The global tech trade association, ITI, welcomed the Biden-Harris Administration's actions to reunite families that had been forcibly separated at the US border and to ensure a fair and efficient legal immigration system in the country.
In keeping with his administration's efforts, the ITI also urged Biden to formally rescind the Trump Administration's presidential proclamation that currently prohibits certain high-skilled immigrants from obtaining visas as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.
"Keeping families together and enacting modern, fair and efficient immigration policies will strengthen communities, drive innovation and spur US economic growth.
To further bolster the US economic recovery in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is critical that President Biden rescind the current suspension of high-skilled immigration.
Our industry is committed to working with policymakers in the administration and in US Congress to advance a modern, competitive immigration system," it said.
American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) executive director Benjamin Johnson said changes are important, as is the effort the administration is undertaking to reunite the families separated by the Trump administration's zero-tolerance policy, which has already been rolled back by the new administration.
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