Within hours of taking the oath of office, President Joe Biden began his term with a series of executive orders. Many of those actions focus on immigration and ending Trump administration policies, including constructing a border wall.
The plans also seek a path to citizenship for the more than 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S., investing in updated border technology, thereby modernizing the immigration system and offering aid to Central America.
The new administration pledges a reversal over immigration
President Biden said before signing the executive orders, that many would take effect immediately while other policy changes will take time. The president said many of his policy goals require legislation. Here is a list of the orders and proposals:
- Preserving DACA: The Trump administration tried to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, an Obama-era program protecting immigrants who came to the U.S. as children from deportation. Biden’s executive order directs Homeland Security to preserve the program. The new president plans to introduce legislation that includes a path to citizenship for DACA beneficiaries.
- Border wall halt: Biden’s order ends the national emergency that allowed Trump to secure funds from other parts of the federal budget to build his border wall. The action effectively stops all construction projects until further review can be done.
- End Muslim travel ban: President Biden moved to end one of Trump’s first actions as president, a hastily-constructed order that restricted people from predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States.
- Census count: Trump ordered the Census Bureau not to count undocumented immigrants in the 2020 census when apportioning seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. Biden’s order revokes those actions and instead commits to a “fair and accurate” count.
- Halt “remain in Mexico” program: The Trump administration forced thousands of people awaiting immigration hearings to live in makeshift camps in deplorable conditions. Biden’s order will bring that to a halt, although he says it may take a while to implement due to the coronavirus and other factors.
- Interior enforcement: Under the Trump administration, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) prioritized undocumented immigrants for arrest. Biden revoked that order and says his administration will “reset” policies and practices for enforcing immigration laws.
Biden promises comprehensive reform
President Biden says proposed legislation would provide citizenship to farmworkers, Temporary Protected Status holders and DACA recipients. The bill contains a plan for undocumented immigrants to obtain green cards if they pay taxes and pass background checks.