During his first day in office President Joe Biden made some significant changes to orders issued by his predecessor, President Trump; a move that dismantled major parts of the Trump administration’s immigration legacy.
On his last day in office, Trump authorized the Deferred Enforcement Departure program offering Venezuelan in exile protection from deportation.
“This is something totally separate from an asylum application. They could be in a different status; they could have no status at all, and they may be able to apply for the DED,” Milena Portillo, an immigration attorney in Orlando said about the DED program.
The program will now have to be rolled out by Biden’s administration.
“We do not have the guidelines from the Department of Homeland Security at this time, but we are getting ready to file those DED’s,” Portillo said. “This DED does not apply to everyone but to most of the people, specifically, it does not apply to anyone with a criminal record or that is a threat to the United States.”
The program will give Venezuelan nationals certain benefits and remove the fear of deportation.
“What that basically does, it stops deportation for Venezuelans for 18 months and it also provides work permits,” Samuel Vilchez Santiago, boar chairman of the non-profit Familias Presentes said.
Although it’s good news for Venezuelans in exile, said Vilchez, the end goal is for them to obtain Temporary Protective Status, known as TPS, which is currently granted to nationals from 10 countries including Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Sudan, and Somalia.
“While both of them are very similar DED and TPS the reality is TPS is a little more robust when it comes to the legal framework and standing at the national level,” Vilchez said. “Now we’ll see what president Joe Biden will do. He did promise during the campaign that he will pass TPS for Venezuelans.”
According to Vilchez, the situation in Venezuela is not getting any better. The country has suffered from for more than a decade, political and economic crisis, with insecurity on the rise.
“Right now, with the pandemic, there’s no testing, there’s no vaccines. You’re looking at a situation of social, political, and economic chaos-- has resulted in the biggest refugee crisis since the Syrian refugee crisis with over 6 million Venezuelans leaving the country--a country of 30 million,” he said.
And aside from having to execute the new DED program, President Biden signed an executive order to reverse policies for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, known as DACA, that Trump had imposed.
“He has ordered that within the next 100 days DHS has to come up with the guidelines to ensure first the DACA, and hopefully the same benefits that they had prior to the Trump administration,” Portillo said. “We expect President Biden’s new policies to give them that opportunity to have the DACA hopefully for two years.”
During the Obama administration, DACA recipients could renew their status every two years--allowing them to travel outside the country and work permits--that changed to a one-year permit under the Trump administration.
Other executive orders signed on Biden’s first day include:
-Revoked the travel bans, also referred to as the Muslim Ban and African Bans, previously ordered by the Trump administration and abolished the so-called “extreme vetting” practices that were hard on immigrants and led to rejected visa applications. The order also instructed the State Department to restore fairness in visa processing and remedy harms caused by the previous bans.
-Directed an immediate halt to construction of the border wall along the U.S. Mexican border and called for a review of the legality of funding and contracting methods used by the previous administration. The order terminated the “national emergency” declaration and allowed the Biden-Harris administration to determine the best way to redirect the hundreds of millions of dollars earmarked for border wall construction elsewhere.