US President Joe Biden on Wednesday lifted the ban on green card applicants issued by former president Donald Trump during the pandemic that blocked them from entering the United States.
Last year, Trump had halted the issuance of green cards until the end of 2020, in order to protect the US workers amid high unemployment due to the coronavirus pandemic. The former president has blocked their entry to the nation in issuing Proclamation 10014 and Proclamation 10052.
Rejecting Trump’s reasoning, Biden in his proclamation stated that shutting the door on legal immigrants does not advance the interests of the United States. To the contrary, it harms the nation, including by preventing certain family members of the United States citizens and lawful permanent residents from reuniting with their families here. It also harms indigenous industries that utilize talent from around the world.
In recent weeks, immigrant lawyers had been pressing Biden to lift the visa ban, which was set to expire on March 31. In turn, the President has pledged to reverse many of Trump’s hardline immigration policies.
According to the American Immigrant lawyers Association, as many as 120,000 family-based preference visas were lost largely because of the pandemic-related ban in the 2020 budget year. As a result, immigrants could not bring over family members unless they were US citizens applying for visas for their spouses or children under the age of 21.
It also restricted entry to immigrants with employment-based visas unless they were considered beneficial to the national interest such as health care professionals. A California’s federal judge had blocked Trump’s freeze on foreign guest workers in October last year as it affected the several US businesses that fought the policy in court.
California immigration lawyer Curtis Morrison, who represented thousands of people blocked by the ban, said the blocked visas add to a growing backlog that has reached 437,000 for family-based visas alone. Biden will now have to tackle it, the process could potentially take years, he said.