Less than a month after taking office, President Biden has signed a number of executive orders to boldly reverse course on many immigration policies trumpeted by the prior administration and start the work of building new policies regarding immigration, refugees and asylum.

I would like to highlight on one action related to a topic that brought much concern and distress to many Madison immigrant residents less than two years ago. In 2019, the Trump administration announced a new rule regarding immigrants called the Public Charge rule. Under this policy certain immigrants who had received public benefits, such as food or health care assistance, for more than a total of twelve months within any 36-month period could be classified as a "public charge" hence ineligible for permanent residency. The rule was intended to frighten and intimidate, and it did.

“Immigrants have been at the forefront of the COVID-19 pandemic caring for the sick, harvesting our nation’s food, and keeping businesses running. These public charge regulations have prevented immigrants from obtaining health care, food, and financial relief at a time when it’s needed most,” said Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center

On February 2nd, 2021, the Biden administration announced an executive order that instructs a “top-to-bottom” review of the public charge rule, rescinds the prior administration’s memorandum requiring family sponsors to repay the government if relatives receive public benefits and recommends the streamlining of the naturalization process.

The President’s strategy “is centered on the basic premise that our country is safer, stronger, and more prosperous with a fair, safe and orderly immigration system that welcomes immigrants, keeps families together, and allows people—both newly arrived immigrants and people who have lived here for generations—to more fully contribute to our country.”

The new administration took additional actions, including:

  • Reversing the prior administration's restrictions on U.S. entry for passport holders from seven Muslim-majority countries

  • Creating a high level task force to reunify the approximately 600 children separated from their families by the Trump administration

  • Undoing prior administrations expansion of immigration enforcement within the United States

  • Directing the DHS Secretary, in consultation with the Attorney General, to take all actions he deems appropriate, consistent with applicable law, to preserve and fortify DACA.

  • Halting construction of the border wall by terminating the national emergency declaration used to fund it

  • Directing federal agencies to improve the integrity and transparency of the United States Refugee Admissions Program to address backlogs and to submit a report on climate change and its impact on migration

In addition to reversing prior policies, the administration also pledged to develop a strategy to address irregular migration across the Southern Border and to create a new and more humane asylum system.

I align with the President on his belief that “immigrants are essential to who we are as a nation and critical to our aspirations for the future” and it is my hope that these changes and new policies yet to be created will yield outcomes that allows our immigrant residents here in Madison to live free of the type of fear we witnessed in the past, and continue to thrive and contribute to the rich fabric of our community has they have done for decades.

Resources: If you reside in Madison or Dane County and have immigration questions reach out to:

Fabiola Hamdan, MSSW

Immigration Affairs Supervisor

Dane County Department of Human Services (DCDHS)

818 S. Badger Rd.

Madison WI 53713


(608) 242-6260

(608) 242-6293

If you would like to learn more about the changes being made that impact immigration please visit the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

This content is free for use with credit to the City of Madison - Mayor's Office and a link back to the original post.

Category: Equity