Biden Lifts Trump-Era Freeze on Green Cards

President Joe Biden participates in a virtual event with the Munich Security Conference in the East Room of the White House, Feb. 19, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

(CN) — President Joe Biden on Wednesday revoked a Trump-era executive order that put a freeze on green cards and other forms of legal immigration due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

In a proclamation, President Biden said Trump’s order “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.” he said.

Former President Donald Trump issued the order in April 2020, calling immigrants a “risk to the U.S. labor market” during the pandemic. In addition to freezing green cards, the order blocked most immigrant visas, including those of skilled workers. 

“It would be wrong and unjust for Americans laid off by the virus to be replaced with new immigrant labor flown in from abroad,” Trump said. “We must first take care of the American worker.” 

The freeze drew the ire of several business groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and National Associations of Manufacturers, which both brought lawsuits challenging the order. 

A federal judge ruled last year to allow temporary foreign workers to enter the country if their employers belonged to the Chamber of Commerce or other similar organizations.

Biden’s lifting of the freeze is one of several actions he’s taken since taking office to roll back Trump’s anti-immigration policies. Wednesday’s proclamation will allow hundreds of thousands to apply for visas immediately instead of the end of March when Trump’s order was set to expire.

The reversal also allows the diversity visa lottery to continue, a program that offers up to 55,000 visas a year to immigrants from countries with a low amount of immigration rates to the U.S. 

Biden also revoked a number of other Trump-era orders and memorandums Wednesday, including one that targeted local governments that allowed “anarchy, violence and destruction in American cities.” That memorandum sought to cut federal funding to cities traditionally considered liberal.

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