Washington — US President Joe Biden has revoked a ban on legal immigration that was ordered by his predecessor Donald Trump to save American jobs for local citizens in an economy crippled by the Covid-19 pandemic.
In a proclamation issued on Wednesday, Biden said the ban “does not advance the interests of the United States”. He added, “To the contrary, it harms the United States, including by preventing certain family members of United States citizens and lawful permanent residents from joining their families here. It also harms industries in the United States that utilise talent from around the world.”
The proclamation will allow people to begin applying for green cards with immediate effect – and not wait until March when the ban was supposed to expire. It did not revoke the ban on H-1B, L and other work visas. But they are set to lapse in March.
In April 2020, Trump had temporarily suspended for 60 days the entry of legal immigrants – affecting green cards – as layoffs had begun to spike. There were some exceptions, such as dependents of US citizens. Then in June, Trump extended the freeze by another 60 days and added non-immigrants to the list, including holders of short-term work visas such as the H-1B and L visas used for intra-company transfers. He further extended these bans in December for another 60 days.
“Without intervention, the United States faces a potentially protracted economic recovery with persistently high unemployment if labour supply outpaces labour demand,” Trump had said in the April proclamation.
While the stated goal was to save US jobs for Americans, critics said the former president was using the pandemic to pursue a hardline immigration agenda.