President Joe Biden recently lifted a green card freeze in February that carried over from the Trump administration. The ban affected thousands of immigrants and was responsible for blocking most legal immigration to the U.S.
Preventing Immigrants from Entering Throughout the Pandemic
Last spring, the Trump administration put a freeze on green card issuance, which would continue through to the end of the year. The objective was to help preserve American jobs that would otherwise struggle during the pandemic, a similar reason to those that the administration previously discussed as a pretext for other policies blocking immigration.
By the end of the year, the administration put an extension on the ban to keep it in place until March 2021. Prior to the scheduled end of the freeze, Biden announced that the ban went against the interests of the country and moved to lift it.
The freeze affected many immigrants in different situations. Not only did U.S. businesses suffer from the inability to bring in immigrant workers, but many immigrant families were unable to reunite, and thousands of immigrants who won the visa lottery out of 14 million applicants were also unable to enter the country. If immigrants wished to bring their families to the U.S., the only way they could do so would be to have already gained citizenship and either sponsored children under the age of 21 or sponsored their spouses.
Lifting the Ban
Despite the ability for temporary foreign workers to enter the country when a federal judge permitted their entry, Proclamation 10014 still kept many immigrants from gaining entry. While Biden had quickly lifted the travel ban that the Trump administration had put in place in 2020, many immigrants in the affected countries were still unable to enter despite possessing valid green cards. However, several days after a court order issued a hold for thousands of visa-holders who had won the visa lottery, the Biden administration lifted the ban to allow those individuals to gain entry.
Working to Avoid Future Freezes
Following the recent release of the green card freeze, Biden has proposed legislation that would help prevent similar presidential bans in the future. The legislation, if put into action, would help ensure that immigrants wouldn’t have to experience the same issues under other administrations.