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Stay up-to-date on the latest immigration law news, with the Cohen & Tucker team's insights behind the headlines

New Immigration Law in 2023

Who Stands To Benefit from the New Law?

Immigration and Nationality Act

Immigration law is never written in stone. Each administration makes changes, adjustments, or enacts reform to the immigration process. World events can shape immigration limits and quotas through processes like asylum, refugee status, and temporary protected status. 

Here’s how 2023’s changes in immigration law may impact people attempting to immigrate to the United States with proper documentation.

What Does the New Immigration Law moving into 2024 Entail?

The year 2023 brought changes in the areas of work authorization, eligibility requirements, the process of seeking asylum in the United States, and protocols for deportation. Some of these changes simplify the process of assisting immigrants, while other changes may pose challenges.

Eligibility Requirements

Eligibility requirements have been enhanced for asylum seekers, who must now provide additional proof of their eligibility and attempts to seek asylum elsewhere. States like Florida have introduced stricter eligibility requirements for immigrants and new requirements for employers requesting proof of immigration status for their workers.

Deportation Protocols

As eligibility requirements become increasingly more strict, deportation protocols become increasingly more relaxed. In some of the strongest border protection measures to date, border officers are encouraged to deport anyone who crosses the border without proper authorization, without further examination or immigration detention.

Work Authorization Updates

Nonimmigrant and other foreign national workers in the United States saw historically long wait times for work authorization renewals, which prompted immigration agencies to issue automatic extensions to help prevent lapses in work eligibility. 

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that they would allow automatic extensions for some people who maintain the same immigration status as long as they file their paperwork in a timely manner. This will help to prevent further financially devastating delays that may be caused by the overwhelming backlog.

New Rules for Asylum Seekers

Asylum seekers are currently facing their toughest path into the United States. Border officers are encouraged to turn asylum seekers away at the border and automatically deport asylum seekers who cross the border without prior authorization.

Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is heavily encouraging the use of their CBP One app, which requires users to submit an application for asylum and await a confirmed appointment before presenting themselves at the border. Asylum seekers are also required to provide proof that they’ve sought asylum in every country they’ve passed through on their journey and have been denied asylum status in countries like Mexico. 

How Did the 2023 Law Compare to Previous Immigration Reforms?

Understanding how immigration law in 2023 compared to previous years can help you get a better view of what is changing and how it’s changing. 

Under Trump’s Administration

Under Trump’s administration, the following changes were made to immigration law:

  • Enhanced border security measures.
  • The status of DACA and Dreamers called into question.
  • Increased ICE and CBP operations.

The Trump administration attempted to take a strict stance on immigration, though many of the administration’s attempted actions failed. Trump’s relentless calls to build a full border wall to separate the United States and Mexico unabashedly failed and were abandoned due to a lack of fiscal restraints and excessive labor requirements. 

A policy of separating and detaining families at the border left immigrant children without their parents in the United States. Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents made an effort to reunify children with their parents, but they weren’t able to successfully reunify over 1,000 children who still remain in the United States many years later. 

The Trump administration placed an indefinite pause on processing and verifying Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals/Dreamer applications, complicating the situation for immigrants who have lived the majority of their lives in the United States.

Many of Trump’s most restrictive immigration laws, including the enactment of Title 42, used the COVID-19 pandemic as a justification. When COVID-19 lockdowns were lifted, a significant percentage of the population became vaccinated, and global travel resumed, many of the administration’s restrictive policies were required to come to an end. 

Biden’s Initiatives Prior to 2023

The following initiatives were set into motion by the Biden administration prior to 2023:

  • Open stance on immigration.
  • Focus on family reunification.
  • Addressing backlogs in the immigration system.

The Biden administration inherited tremendous backlogs in the immigration system, with retrogressions in some categories spanning back nearly a decade. The administration has been working with immigration agencies to streamline processes and automate the approval of certain documents or petitions that don’t require a significant amount of scrutiny. 

The Biden administration has emphasized the importance of family reunification. They aim to simplify the family green card process and prioritize immediate family members of United States citizens and permanent residents.

The current administration maintains that they have an open stance on immigration and would like to create simple pathways forward for people hoping to move to the United States temporarily or permanently, although some recent policies and laws seem to be having the opposite effect.

Who Stands To Benefit from the New Law?

Several proposed laws are currently receiving sponsorship by lawmakers and review by the Senate. If passed, laws like the Dignity Act of 2023 and the American Dream and Promise Act of 2023 could significantly benefit underserved groups of American immigrants, including undocumented immigrants.


Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients and dreamers may find a pathway to full-fledged United States citizenship through the pathway drafted into the American Dream and Promise Act of 2023. These pathways could also be made available to long-time Temporary Protected Status (TPS) recipients and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) recipients, like some immigrants from certain regions of China.

Undocumented Immigrants 

There are an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States, and many of them have lived in the country long enough to build their entire lives in the USA. 

The Dignity Act would provide these immigrants with an opportunity to obtain renewable resident status in the United States if they pass a criminal background check and meet certain requirements. 

Participation in the program would come with a fee of approximately $5,000, which can be broken up into smaller payment installments over the course of 7 years. Participants must also begin paying taxes and work with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to pay taxes they may owe.

Agricultural Workers 

Immigrant agricultural workers are an important part of the backbone of America. American families heavily rely on the labor they provide to put food on the family table. The Dignity Act proposes a permanent resident pathway for long-time agricultural workers who are undocumented immigrants. They would be allowed to live and work in the United States without fear of deportation.

Asylum Seekers 

The Dignity Act aims to allocate funding for five humanitarian immigration centers in Latin America. Asylum seekers in Latin America would be able to make a safer, easier trip to a local asylum assistance center to inquire about immigration benefits. The center may also be able to help asylum seekers find alternative pathways into the United States, like work-related visas if they aren’t eligible for or are unable to receive a humanitarian visa.

What Are the Eligibility Criteria for the New Provisions?

The new proposed laws would grant a significant amount of leeway to undocumented immigrants that would have otherwise been subject to deportation. Because the new proposed laws waive a significant number of barriers, candidates must meet certain criteria for eligibility. 

Background Check Protocols

Prior conviction of a serious crime or being wanted by authorities for a suspected crime erases your chances of immigrating to the United States. Exceptions are made if the crime of which you are accused is something perfectly legal in the United States. 

For example, consensual homosexual relationships between adults are illegal in some countries. They’re perfectly legal in the United States and would not be viewed as a criminal act.

Duration in America 

These laws would only apply to undocumented immigrants and workers in America who have been here for a specific period of time. If recipients of these programs wish to apply for citizenship, they’ll still need to hold a green card for a minimum of five years before they apply for naturalization. The clock begins when they become documented immigrants — not when they initially arrived.

Status of Health Care and Other Benefits

Public health care and assistance programs are only available to citizens of the United States, with the exception of certain refugees, crime victims, and asylum seekers. Individuals eligible to receive a green card would not automatically have access to public benefit systems and would be responsible for providing for themselves. 

How Have Different States Reacted to the New Law?

The proposed changes to immigration policy are major and liberal. Lawmakers and politicians who are against most forms of immigration have taken counteroffensive actions with laws in their own states to render new proposed provisions difficult to achieve.

Florida’s Standpoint

Immigration reform advocates with a pro-immigration stance have ruthlessly criticized Florida Governor Ron DeSantis for his antics and policy changes in regard to immigration law. Florida’s coastal location directly correlates with its high immigrant population, where approximately 8% of Floridians are noncitizen immigrants

Among the most controversial of DeSantis’s actions was to require employers with 25 or more employees to e-verify the immigrant status of every employee. This led to a mass exodus in food service, agriculture, and construction jobs. Businesses are failing, and projects are being abandoned due to an exodus of workers who fear repercussions, and Florida’s economy is taking a hit.

Texas and the Southern Border

The rapid influx of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border led to enhanced security precautions, and many bills aim to provide funding for an increased number of border officers and new surveillance technology. U.S. Border Patrol has intensified, and relations with Mexico and cross-border activities have become strained. 

Governor Abbott had a floating barrier set up in the Rio Grande to deter migrants, which was later ordered to be removed by a federal judge. 

How Does the Law Pass Through Congress?

Immigration laws often involve a lot of debate between political parties before they are solidified and passed. 

Republican vs. Democratic Views

Generous immigration policies are generally favored by democratic politicians and opposed by republican politicians. Some Republican politicians have switched sides in favor of compassion for immigrants and the preservation of the value they add to the United States economy.

Role of the Senate in Amendments

The Senate will be the last group of people to review and debate new immigration laws before they can be enacted. The Senate may or may not agree on the majority of the proposed bills. If the majority of the Senate agrees, the bill can move forward.

Supreme Court Implications and Potential Challenges

The Supreme Court holds the right to review laws that are enacted. If it’s believed that laws are unconstitutional, the Supreme Court can strike them down. Some provisions within the current bills may cause debate among the Supreme Court, but there’s no way of knowing what will happen until the time comes.

What Are the Operational Changes at DHS and USCIS?

In addition to providing valuable assistance to undocumented immigrants and migrant workers, the proposed bills also provide provisions for immigration agencies to help them enforce immigration laws.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS)

The Department of Homeland Security may receive additional full-time employees, as well as new technology that would help them manage border security more efficiently. Changes to the law may impact the mandate of ICE in the way they’re directed to handle issues at the border.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)

Additional resources and room for automation can help USCIS address years-long backlogs of immigration petitions and applications. Clearer pathways to documented permanent residency can help move along the cases of what may be millions of potential new permanent residents.

How Does the Law Address Employment and E-Verify?

New immigration restrictions, especially those enacted in the state of Florida, change the way that immigration law can be enforced. Mandating employers to verify the status of their employees places a greater demand on the electronic verification system that will be used to verify the status of their employees.

Employees who aren’t documented are more likely to leave their positions than to consent to a verification check that would put them at risk of deportation. A mass exodus from the workforce could significantly harm the economy. The new bill intends to make it easier for undocumented workers to receive proper documentation, which can preserve and strengthen the United States economy by keeping many industries afloat. 

Laws like those enacted by DeSantis would give law enforcement officers the authority to act as though they were immigration officers, which may cause significant issues within immigration law. The common general law enforcement officer has no background in immigration law and should not have the powers reserved for specially trained officers who are qualified to make necessary assessments.

The Supreme Court has already ruled that States do not have the authority to overrule the federal government’s decision as to how immigration laws are to be enforced. It’s likely to be a rocky road ahead as states like Texas and Florida fail to heed the warning.

What Does the Future Hold for U.S. Immigration Policy?

U.S. immigration policy is constantly changing and evolving. It will change with every administration. Sometimes policy will be more expansive and forgiving. Sometimes it will regress and negatively impact immigrants living in this country. It’s a difficult balance, and it may not be possible to perfectly achieve that balance.

Potential for Further Reforms

There is always the potential for further immigration policy reforms with each incoming administration. Immigration law advocacy groups constantly work towards educating the general public about the net value of immigrants in American society and the American economy.

The Ongoing Balance Between Security and Openness

Although it’s wonderful to welcome diverse faces and talents into the United States, it’s also necessary to keep the country safe. Secure borders can help prevent crime and even terrorism. Immigration policy should be designed to keep Americans safe from harm while welcoming those who look to the United States for safety, education, and opportunity.

Prospects for Undocumented Immigrants and U.S. Citizens

Immigration reform advocates have taken great strides to place emphasis on the role that undocumented immigrants play in U.S. society. There are plenty of prospects for undocumented immigrants, and they don’t necessarily take away from the prospects of United States citizens. It’s all about finding a balance where U.S. citizens have access to plenty of prospects with enough left over for newcomers. 

What Comes Next

Immigration law constantly changes and evolves. Some recently introduced bills could have a major positive impact on the lives of many immigrants, including undocumented immigrants. Despite these bills that could have significant benefits, some states are gearing their laws in the other direction. 

States like Florida are locking down and taking a hard stance against immigrants. It can be challenging to navigate, but there’s every reason to hope that the progress will exceed the setbacks. 


The Dignity Act of 2023 | Congresswoman Veronica Escobar

H.R. 16 (IH) – American Dream and Promise Act of 2023 – Content Details | GovInfo

Florida’s Recent Immigration Law Could Have Stark Impacts for Families and the State’s Economy | KFF

Supreme Court decision affirms President Biden’s power to set immigration enforcement priorities and protect labor standards through deferred action | Economic Policy Institute


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