Pres. Biden overhauls immigration policies, brings hope to those seeking citizenship

President Joe Biden has suggested a dramatic shift away from current immigration policies installed by the Trump administration.

Potential changes could start with deferred action for people brought to the United States as children. 

"What the plan is now is to actually build a plan to citizenship, first green card status, then citizenship for DACA recipients. There are over 40,000 DACA recipients in the State of Florida," said immigration attorney Steve Maggie.

Maggie is the founder of SMA Immigration Law Firm based in Florida. 

He suggests immigrants keep an eye on government websites and keep up with advocacy organizations and immigration attorneys to see what options become available.

President Biden has also vowed to remove backlogs for people who have waited years outside of the U.S. for Visa petitions. 

"So, you’re going to see a lot of family members of Floridians who are going to be able to come finally and live in the U.S. and have green card status," Maggie said.

The measure most people would likely notice is overall comprehensive immigration reform. This would need to be passed by Congress. 

Maggie said it could allow up to 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. to eventually become citizens. Nearly one million of those people are in Florida. 

"We’re talking about three quarters of a million people in the State of Florida that are undocumented now that could within eight years become U.S. citizens," Maggie said. "Anyone who has been here illegally or undocumented as of the first of this year, Jan. 2021, could be eligible for this immigration reform."

Biden’s plans have received harsh criticism from Republicans who believe they may encourage illegal immigration. 

Maggie sees benefits in making pathways to citizenship for immigrants. 

"The reality is that these 11 million undocumented people and 750,000 in the State of Florida are not going anywhere. They’re going to remain in the U.S., so why not legalize them over time, make sure they pass their criminal background checks and national security checks, and paying their taxes every year," he said. "You’re talking about estimates of up to a trillion dollars over these eight years. That’s a lot of taxpayer money that could be very helpful to building our infrastructure and rebuilding our country during COVID and after COVID."