In statement, Board urges Biden administration to advance safer, equitable immigration policy

January 7, 2021

During the Jan. 7, 2021, board meeting, Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury read the following statement expressing support for all County employees living and working in the country on H1-B visas, and urging the incoming Biden administration to reverse many of the Trump administration's immigration policy decisions that have adversely affected immigrant and refugee communities.

With the news cycle churning furiously with stories about the pandemic and vaccine developments, it is important to recognize several recent developments that impact federal immigration policy in the United States. 

On December 2nd, we were pleased that the Senate passed S386, “Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act,” which eliminates country caps on employment-based green cards. This piece of legislation has a significant impact on many immigrant families, including those in Multnomah County, who often face green card wait times that last decades. These backlogs cause numerous issues for these families related to their careers, family stability, financial stress and health inequities. We are glad to see the Senate take a step in relieving some of these burdens from our immigrant community. 

Additionally, a federal judge blocked the Trump administration’s latest effort to limit legal immigration through changes to the worker visa programs that would have made it much more difficult for businesses to hire high-skilled foreign employees. 

At Multnomah County, we greatly appreciate and value all our employees, including those who are here on H-1B visas. We have heard directly from these employees about the difficulties created by the Trump administration’s harsh anti-immigration policies, and were relieved to see these changes struck down by the courts. We continue to stand with all immigrants and refugees, including those employed by our organization. 

Over the past four years, the Trump administration has gone to great lengths to restrict immigration into our country, making more than 400 changes to immigration policy, according to a study by the Migration Policy Institute. Officials brazenly continue to take actions intended to curtail immigration through the final days of this administration by issuing rule changes regarding immigration-related fees, court regulations and tight timelines. 

One of the many pressing tasks President-elect Joe Biden will face once he takes office will be reversing these changes and intentionally investing in efforts and programs to support and heal impacted immigrant and refugee communities. The Biden administration has signaled plans to reverse many of the changes made by the Trump administration. Some of the major issues they plan to address include the “public charge” rule changes, reunification of families who were separated at the US-Mexico border, ending detrimental asylum policies and protecting all “Dreamers.”

This task won’t be easy, and it won’t happen overnight. We at Multnomah County stand with immigrants and refugees, and we look forward to working with the new administration to both fix the harms perpetrated on these communities over the last four years and advance a safer and more equitable immigration system — one that will strengthen our entire community.

Deborah Kafoury
Multnomah County Chair

Sharon Meieran
Commissioner, District 1

Susheela Jayapal
Commissioner, District 2

Jessica Vega Pederson
Commissioner, District 3

Lori Stegmann
Commissioner, District 4