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No, Biden did NOT Pass an Immigration-Reform Law

It's been a while since I've last posted, and that's because I wanted to see what the new Presidential Administration would do after getting into office. I still believe it's premature to comment on what has happened because the U.S. Congress in this current term has not yet turned to dealing with the issue of Comprehensive Immigration Reform.

Nonetheless, I've been receiving a number of calls from and consultation schedulings for people who want to take advantage of the "Biden Law" because they think they qualify. They reference what they've read in the media: the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021. They ask whether they are eligible after saying they believe they are based on their review of the "law." I explain to them that there is no such law yet because the U.S. Congress hasn't passed anything. We then get into the debate as to whether the bill will become law given that the Democrats have control in both chambers of the U.S. Congress, the likelihood of a Republican filibuster in the U.S. Senate, and the expected amendments before passage.

I don't mind having these conversations even though at the end of the day there's no legal change from which people can benefit. I'm not publishing this blog post to complain about the time I have to spend on something that doesn't exist. Instead, I write this post out of concern for people who have been hoping for years for some type of reform and who are willing to believe anything they are told if it reinforces that hope. Also, a number of advertisers have contacted me to try to get me to market the "Biden Law" so that I "can get more clients."

While I have explained to many people as I can about the nonexistence yet of a "Biden Law" and have refused purchasing advertising relating to it, I find that the combination of the eagerness of the undocumented population and the revenue goals of the marketing industry will soon, if it hasn't already, lead to many legal, and illegal, practitioners' using this moment to acquire clients whose situation has not improved at all since before the current Presidential Administration took office.

While the current U.S. President does have certain authority to refuse to execute policies pursued by a previous U.S. President, no U.S. President can pass laws. Therefore, someone who was not on a path to U.S. citizenship in 2020 most likely is not on such a path now. Similarly, while there may be options available to a person who has lost hope, finding out those options, understanding the obstacles, and gauging the likelihood of success are best suited for a confidential conversation with a licensed attorney who specializes exclusively in U.S. Immigration Law and who can put together based on the actual law in existence a strategy for success. Therefore, hoping to take advantage of something that doesn't exist is a strategy for failure.

Turning specifically to the "Biden Law," in the U.S. Senate, although the Republicans no longer have control, the filibuster still exists. The filibuster is when one person, or a group of persons, typically from the party in the minority, refuses to end the debate on a bill. A bill in either chamber cannot go to a vote until debate ends. While debate can be ended easily in the U.S. House of Representatives, the U.S. Senate has an obscure rule where debate can, at worst, be ended only when 60 members vote to end it, something called cloture. Therefore, a filibuster is when the debate continues indefinitely without enough votes for cloture, leading to a standstill until either those filibustering give up or those hoping for passage of the bill move on to other business. As a result, even if the Republicans in the U.S. Senate don't have the votes to have the bill lose on a floor vote, they can still potentially succeed in making sure it never gets to a vote in the first place by refusing to agree to end debate on it, i.e., by filibustering.

Historically, it's been 25 years since the U.S. Congress passed anything that helped a significant number of the undocumented population, and even then that law came with a number of penalties, including the unlawful-presence three-year and ten-year bars and the unlawful-reentry permanent bar. Even if an immigration-law-reform bill is passed by the U.S. Congress, something that in and of itself would be a miracle in this fractious political climate, it will not look like what the U.S. President has proposed. We won't know what it looks like until both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate pass the same exact language. I share the hope that many of the undocumented population have, but I've found that relying on hope alone does not help. Instead, I've relied on the law as it exists and have fortunately been able to help thousands of people come to and to remain permanently lawfully in the U.S. And if and when some type of reform does become law, I'll be sure to make sure people are fully aware of its requirements so that they can take advantage of it at that time.

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