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Indy leaders note immigration changes near top among Biden’s priorities

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Immigration is one of the Biden administration’s top priorities.

According to CNN, President Joe Biden kicked off his term Wednesday by signing out a series of immigration executive actions, moving swiftly to undo many Trump administration policies and ending the national emergency that diverted millions of dollars to the border wall. Biden on the campaign trail vowed, for example, to introduce comprehensive immigration legislation and maintain programs that provide relief to immigrants living in the United States.

Supporters said considering all the executive decisions and changes made by President Donald Trump in the last four years, it’ll take a while to roll them back. One of the possible key changes could allow some 11 million undocumented immigrants begin a path to citizenship.

Advocates with the Immigrant Welcome Centers said, in the last four years, over 40 changes were made to immigration policy, creating a sense of confusion in immigrant communities.

“The changes were happening so quickly and coming out as executive order so people were having to quickly understand what the changes meant for themselves and for their family members,” said Amy Shackelford, program director with the Immigrant Welcome Center.

The Biden administration’s transition team said the president planned in part to open Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) to new applicants, expand access to seeking asylum, pause deportations, expand work visa availability, reunite families, and also expand the pathway to citizenship to undocumented immigrants.

“Current citizenship process is only for folks who are eligible, so (those) who are here on specific on visas already,” Shackelford said.

As with any sweeping changes to legislation, some skepticism exists over how fast changes could come. Executive order changes could happen almost immediately.

“A lot of this can be done through the president, through the Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice, so they are not as slow as the legislative process,” said staff attorney Jacob Snodgrass with The Immigrants’ and Language Rights Center.

Advocates said new policy changes won’t just benefit individuals.

“I think part of the proposal, to create a pathway to citizenship, is really recognizing that millions of people who are living here, are participating in our economy, are undocumented immigrants,” Snodgrass said.

The quote from Jacob Snodgress has been corrected from the initial post.

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