Do something while Biden is still president

IMMIGRATION CORNER - Michael J. Gurfinkel - The Philippine Star

The presidential election will be in November 2024. Currently, President Biden and former president Trump are the frontrunners. Trump is once again campaigning on a platform of being tough and restrictive when it comes to immigration.

Trump wants to close/secure the southern border and “deport the illegals,” whom he views as being mostly criminals, terrorists and very bad people, with “a few good ones.”

When Trump was president, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) had a very tough and restrictive attitude towards immigration and the granting of benefits. There was almost a “zero tolerance” policy, where US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) was practically looking for ways to deny petitions and applications and immediately placing people in deportation/removal if a case was denied. There were situations where a person may have left out a particular document, such as a birth certificate or marriage contract, and USCIS would immediately deny the case rather than serve a request for evidence to give them a chance to correct the situation. People were so traumatized that they seriously considered leaving the US rather than living in daily fear of being hunted down and deported.

To his credit, President Biden was far more lenient in his immigration policies and enforcement. He has issued guidance and a memorandum on prosecutorial discretion, where some red (or Republican) states sued him over his unwillingness to deport everyone, no matter how minor their immigration violation. Also, if the case was denied, a person was usually not put in deportation upon the denial, as was the case during the Trump administration.

That is why I would recommend that if you have an immigration problem or issue, you should consult with an attorney now over whether there could be some relief available to you under the Biden administration, which may no longer be available if Trump is elected.

For example, if a person had been ordered deported long ago and they now have a 21-year-old US citizen child or recently married a US citizen, there could be hope, depending on the facts and circumstances of their case. Perhaps an attorney could seek an agreement with the government to exercise prosecutorial discretion and reopen or even dismiss an old deportation case, to give the person a chance to pursue their green card.

Other people may have applied for a fraud waiver during Trump’s presidency, which was denied. Perhaps it could be possible to now refile the fraud waiver, especially if the qualifying relative has additional hardships.

To be clear, I am not guaranteeing or promising that everyone’s case will be approved under Biden. Each case depends on the facts and circumstances. But in my opinion, if discretionary relief is necessary, the Biden administration is far more lenient and flexible than under Trump.

If there is something to be done in your case, it is best to do it now and before the election. You should consult with an attorney who can evaluate your case in terms of eligibility, requirements and chances.

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