US President Joe Biden speaks about the American Rescue Plan and the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) for small businesses in response to coronavirus, in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, DC, February 22, 2021. (AFP/FILE)
US President Joe Biden speaks about the American Rescue Plan and the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) for small businesses in response to coronavirus, in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, DC, February 22, 2021. (AFP/FILE)

Joe Biden revokes Trump-era ban on legal immigration

In a proclamation issued on Wednesday, the US president said the ban “does not advance the interests of the United States”
By Yashwant Raj
PUBLISHED ON FEB 25, 2021 10:47 PM IST

US President Joe Biden has revoked a ban on legal immigration that was ordered by his predecessor Donald Trump to protect American jobs for local citizens in an economy crippled by the Covid-19 pandemic.

In a proclamation issued on Wednesday, Biden said the ban “does not advance the interests of the United States”.

“To the contrary, it harms the United States,” he added, “including by preventing certain family members of United States citizens and lawful permanent residents from joining their families here. It also harms industries in the United States that utilise talent from around the world.”

The proclamation will allow people to begin applying for green cards with immediate effect, and not wait until the expiration of the ban in March.

It did not revoke the ban on H-1B, L and other work visas. But they are set to lapse in March.

Former president Trump had in April 2020 temporarily suspended for 60 days the entry of legal immigrants - affecting green cards - as layoffs had begun to spike.

There were some exceptions, such as dependents of US citizens. In June, he had extended the suspension by another 60 days and added non-immigrants to the ban list, including holders of short-term work visas, such as H-1B and L visas used for intra-company transfers.

He had further extended these bans in December for another 60 days.

“Without intervention, the United States faces a potentially protracted economic recovery with persistently high unemployment if labour supply outpaces labour demand,” Trump had said in the April proclamation.

While the stated goal was to protect US jobs for Americans, critics said the former president was using the Covid-19 pandemic to pursue his hard-line immigration agenda under the “Buy American, Hire American” policy, ordered through an executive order he issued in April 2017.

Among other things, his administration targeted the H-1B visa programme, alleging it was been misused to bring foreign workers on lower wages in place of more expensive Americans.

A sweeping immigration reforms legislation, which is backed by Biden, was introduced earlier this week in Congress.

Since taking office in January, Biden has reversed many of his predecessor’s orders on an entire range of issues, from climate change to international engagement.

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