The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) on Tuesday presented a series of recommendations to President-elect Joe Biden to implement “urgent” reforms to alleviate the damage caused by President Donald Trump’s administration and to make the United States once again a nation that welcomes immigrants.
Ben Johnson, AILA’s executive director, explained at a press conference that the recommendations “are focused on what the executive can do” and therefore are not dependent on Congress.
In that sense, Greg Chen, director of government relations at AILA, urged the new administration to issue a proclamation in its first week in office that declares the United States a country that welcomes all people regardless of their faith, color or nationality.
“This message must be given to the many, many policies that have excluded immigrants over the past four years,” during the President’s Donald Trump term, Chen said.
The attorney also urged the incoming administration to undertake in the first days to fully restore the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and to review deportation policies for these that are not “inhumane.
Among the immediate actions that the new administration is being asked to take is to work on reforms in the immigration courts that have a large backlog of cases.
As of September 30, when the fiscal year 2020 ended, the immigration courts had 1,262,765 cases pending, with the courts in Texas, California and New York having the largest number of immigrants waiting to resolve their cases, according to data analysis by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), a data analysis project at Syracuse University in New York.
For Leon Rodriguez, former director of USCIS, who serves as an advisor to AILA, the new administration’s efforts from day one should focus on restoring protections to refugees and asylum seekers.
“We need to restore consensus and commitment to U.S. refugee and asylum programs that are consistent with international conventions,” Rodriguez said.
The former official also highlighted the importance of renewing the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program that has allowed for the protection of migrants from countries affected by disasters.
The Trump government ended the program for some 400,000 immigrants from some 6 countries, mostly Central Americans, who maintain protection thanks to a federal court decision.
AILA presented all the recommendations in a document entitled “A vision for America as a welcoming nation.