The Biden administration this week will determine the fate of people who were impacted by the Muslim ban, which ultimately targeted a large number of African countries. Rescinding the ban was a critical step toward restarting our immigration system and providing equitable access to Black and brown immigrants. But what about the people who would have received visas during the past four years—some of whom spent their life savings on the process but were nevertheless denied simply because of a discriminatory ban? Trump created this catastrophe, but it’s now Biden’s responsibility to remedy it.
In President Biden’s proclamation rescinding the ban, he directed the State Department to send him a report in 45 days. That deadline is Saturday. This report will advise on many things, including how to address Trump’s rampant denials of immigrant visas—that is, visas intended for people to come to the United States, become permanent residents, set down roots, and eventually become citizens.
The Biden administration must do everything possible to undo the Trump administration’s harms, including reopening previously denied cases to fairly reassess their claims, waiving fees (especially for those who would have to pay a second time), expediting their cases, and ensuring people are not penalized for the previous administration’s visa denials. There are glimmers of this hope in Biden’s order, as these issues are explicitly outlined for consideration.