CBA Record March-April 2021

Immigration Law, Covid-19, and the New Administration CBAWebcast Reveals the Complexities of Today’s Immigration Practice By Lynn Semptimphelter Kopon, CBA Record Editorial Board

T he recent CBA Webcast on Immi- gration Law, Covid-19, and the New Administration dispensed a treasure trove of information crucial to today’s immigration practice. The pro- gram consisted of three panels: Developing Policy as Transition Approaches; Preparing Employment-Based Applications in the New Year; and Representing Your Clients During Covid. Moderators were Kendra Scheuerlein, Hughes Socol Piers Resnick &Dym, Chair of the CBA Immigration and National- ity Law Committee; and Tristan Gunn, Tapia-Ruano & Gunn PC, Vice Chair of the CBA Immigration and Nationality Law Committee. Policy Transition The panel on policy transition made clear that the Biden administration would employ major efforts to reverse the anti- immigration policies of the last adminis- tration. Within 28 hours of taking office, the Biden administration created a legisla- tive team to address major immigration problems. Proposed reforms include an eight-year path to citizenship to those undocumented immigrants who were present in the United States as of January 1, 2021. This would include five years of temporary status followed by application for legal permanent residence for three more years, and thereafter the possibility of naturalization. DACA members would be eligible to skip the five years of temporary status and feed directly into the three years of legal permanent residence status before applying for naturalization. Considered legislation would also include an increase in the number of U Visas, and removal of the one-year time frame within which applications for asylum must be filed. The panel also noted that in more expeditious moves, President Biden signed several executive orders: declaring that Homeland Security and the Department

of Justice would fortify DACA protec- tions that are currently under challenge in a Texas court; issuing a proclamation rescinding various travel bans imposed by the prior administration except for the regional bans that are related to Covid-19 hot spots; undoing the previous admin- istration’s efforts to count the number of undocumented immigrants in relation to the overall census numbers in an effort to dilute the census numbers through exclu- sion of that subset; addressing remaining drastic fee hikes imposed by the previous administration that have not yet been enjoined by court order; reversing the imposition of a new citizenship test that poses unreasonable and unnecessary bars to naturalization; addressing the chilling impact of the most recent public charge rules; reversing drastic and unlawful changes in the asylum process ordered by the previous administration; reviewing the numbers involved in the refugee resettle- ment efforts, which will include revital- ization of the resettlement organizations that were basically decimated under the previous administration. The previous administration had pre-

sented a very aggressive posture against legal and business immigration, and the panelists agreed it will take time to slowly change the culture. Part of the efforts against legal and business immigration included the Department of Labor raising wage rates necessary to qualify for a H1-B Visa (effective date, if it takes effect, is July 1, 2021), changes to the immigration “lottery” system to prioritize applicants according to wage levels (most likely will become effective on April 1 but there may be pressure to suspend until next year) and redefining the definition of a H1-B Visa. These changes published near the end of the previous administration’s term packed a heavy hit to the H1-B program and the businesses that rely upon and benefit from this program. Panelists were Fred Tsao, Senior Policy Counsel, Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights; and Marketa Lindt, Partner, Sidley Austin LLP and American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) National President, 2019-2020. Employment-Based Applications The panel on H1-B Visas, Preparing

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