New Report Examines the Biden Administration’s First 100 days on U.S. System of Legal Immigration

April 28, 2021

WASHINGTON—A new report released today by the American Immigration Council examines major changes to the U.S. system of legal immigration made by the Biden administration in its first 100 days in office. The report, “Tracking the Biden Agenda on Legal Immigration in the First 100 Days,” analyzes the most significant Trump-era barriers to legal immigration and subsequent Biden administration actions to restore critical aspects of the system, and makes recommendations to foster a fair and efficient system of legal immigration.

President Biden laid out an ambitious immigration agenda for his first 100 days in office, including reversing harmful barriers to immigration and updating the system more broadly. Some obstacles, like the Muslim and African Bans, were quickly dismantled with the stroke of a pen. But other executive actions, like lifting the refugee cap or addressing obstacles to immigration processing, remain incomplete. This report details the progress the new administration has made and addresses where it should turn next.

The report draws on government data and public reporting to assess the changes to legal immigration implemented by the Biden administration, both through direct policy changes and litigation.

The main recommendations of the report to the Biden administration include:

  • Formally rescinding the Health Insurance Visa Ban through a presidential proclamation.
  • Prioritize removing unnecessary bureaucratic barriers put in place by the previous administration, which contribute to delays and backlogs.
  • Act to fully reinstate consular processing abroad, automatically extending the validity of expiring visas, permitting visa revalidation from within the United States, and reinstituting the authority of consular officers to waive certain in-person interviews to increase efficiency.
  • Work to address the loss of over 100,000 visas for family-based and Diversity visas in fiscal year 2020 through visa recapture.
  • Immediately raise the refugee ceiling for fiscal year 2021 above the historic low left by Trump and prioritize processing for refugees impacted by the Muslim, African, and Refugee Bans.
  • Consider revoking the regional COVID-19 bans and instruct consulates that visas can still be issued for individuals subject to a regional ban.
  • Consider revoking or modifying the land border bans, in consultation with border communities that have been economically impacted by the closure of land borders.

“President Biden inherited a beleaguered immigration system that often created overlapping and duplicative barriers to accessing lawful mechanisms to come to the United States. These barriers have had a dramatic impact on immigration trends that will take years to reverse,” said Jorge Loweree, policy director at the American Immigration Council. “The Biden administration has made a number of key announcements intended to signal a new direction regarding the treatment of immigrants in the United States in its first 100 days. A great deal of work remains, however, to repair the damage caused by the Trump administration, and to ensure that the intended benefits of President Biden’s policy changes are fully realized.”

“This report makes clear the extent to which the Trump administration used the federal bureaucracy to reduce legal immigration. The Biden administration must assess the serious implications of restrictions and delayed actions,” said Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, policy counsel at the American Immigration Council. “The recommendations presented in this report highlight the bureaucratic barriers within our immigration system and the need to repair, restore, and ultimately reform the way the United States temporarily or permanently grants entrance and status to immigrants and refugees—our system of legal immigration.”

"In his first 100 days, President Biden has quickly implemented solutions to ameliorate the destructive policies of his predecessor, but he is also being tested by those resistant to the vision of a more welcoming America who are using the controversy over the southern border to impede any reform. The test of his leadership is whether he will stand by his plan for a fairer, humane, and efficient immigration system when challenged again. On his side will be the American people who, time and again, have supported immigration and a path to citizenship for the undocumented, even through the last four years while immigrants have been under constant attack,” said Greg Chen, senior director of government relations, American Immigration Lawyers Association.



For more information, contact:

 Maria Frausto at the American Immigration Council, [email protected] or 202-507-7526.

Media Contact

Elyssa Pachico
[email protected]

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