SAN DIEGO – President Joe Biden on Wednesday lifted a freeze on green cards issued by his predecessor during the pandemic that lawyers said was blocking most legal immigration to the United States.
Former President Donald Trump last spring halted the issuance of green cards until the end of 2020 in the name of protecting the coronavirus-wracked job market — a reason that Trump gave to achieve many of the cuts to legal immigration that had eluded him before the pandemic.
Trump on Dec. 31 extended those orders until the end of March.
Trump had deemed immigrants a “risk to the U.S. labor market” and blocked their entry to the United States in issuing Proclamation 10014 and Proclamation 10052.
Biden stated in his proclamation Wednesday that shutting the door on legal immigrants “does not advance the interests of the United States."
“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 utilize talent from around the world," Biden stated in his proclamation.
Most immigrant visas were blocked by the orders, according to immigration lawyers.
As many as 120,000 family-based preference visas were lost largely because of the pandemic-related freeze in the 2020 budget year, according to the American Immigration Lawyers Association. Immigrants could not bring over family members unless they were U.S. citizens applying for visas for their spouses or children under the age of 21.