Commentary

printed 02/26/21

With hope for a better year at the top of the national wish list, one step toward that possibility occurred yesterday, when President Biden revoked last year’s executive order banning foreign workers from entering the country.

That restriction, imposed by President Trump last April, forbade the issuance of immigrant visas on the premise that an influx of foreign workers would jeopardize the country’s national recovery.

Biden’s executive order yesterday rejected that argument and lifted the restriction on some immigration, but not on visas for temporary workers.

As the American Immigration Lawyers Association (ALIA) wrote Thursday, “While President Biden has now revoked Proclamation 10014, which prevented the entry of immigrants, he has not taken action to revoke the entry ban on nonimmigrant temporary workers.”

That includes J1 students, thousands of whom have made the wheels go ‘round for resort-area businesses for many years. For many local businesses, the absence of these work/travel students has been just as confounding as the pandemic itself.

Even when limited openings by restaurants were permitted, many could not find the staffing they needed to meet that little bit of additional demand the regulations allowed.

As it stands now, the ban on nonimmigrant visas, which was extended on Dec. 31 by the Trump Administration until March 31, will remain in effect. The ALIA, however, said it will continue to push for relief in this area as well.

The association won’t be alone in that effort, as Biden acknowledged in his proclamation yesterday, the immigration restrictions “harms industries in the United States that utilize talent from around the world.”

Some immigration experts believe that suggests the remaining sections of the visa regulations will be allowed to expire at the end of March, or possibly lifted before that date.

It is, at least, a positive sign that we’re moving in the right direction. Considering everything that happened in the preceding 12 months, we’ll take any good news we can get.

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