Biden signs executive orders reversing Trump's hardline immigration policies

Lalit K Jha
·4-min read

Washington, Feb 3 (PTI) US President Joe Biden has signed three executive orders that he said would lead to a 'fair, orderly and humane' legal immigration system and also undo his predecessor Donald Trump's hardline policies that ripped children from the arms of their families.

The review of the existing policies and the subsequent recommendations coming from 60 to 180 days from various federal agencies are likely to benefit hundreds and thousands of Indian professionals in realising their dream of citizenship of the United States.

'I'm not making new law, I'm eliminating bad policy,' Biden said on Tuesday at the White House, flanked by Vice President Kamala Harris and newly confirmed Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, of the stream of executive orders he has signed as President.

'This is about how America's safer, stronger, more prosperous when we have a fair, orderly, and humane legal immigration system,' Biden told reporters.

He said his executive orders are aimed to strengthen the immigration system, building on the executive actions he took on day one to protect the Dreamers, and the Muslim ban, and to better manage of the country's borders.

'The federal government should develop welcoming strategies that promote integration, inclusion and citizenship, and it should embrace the full participation of the newest Americans in our democracy,' he said in one of the three executive orders.

'Today we are going to work to undo the moral and national shame of the previous administration that literally, not figuratively, ripped children from the arms of their families, their mothers and fathers at the border and with no plan, none whatsoever to reunify the children who are still in custody and their parents,' he said.

The first executive order was on creating a task force, chaired by the Secretary of Homeland Security, to reunify families, which will work across governments to find parents and children separated by the prior administration.

In an attempt to deter illegal immigration, Trump's administration separated undocumented adults from children as they crossed the US-Mexico border. Uner this, over 5,500 families were separated and the parents of more than 600 children still have not been located, according to US media reports.

The second executive order develops a strategy to address the root causes of migration across the borders and creates a humane asylum system, including directing the Department of Homeland Security to take steps to end the Migrant Protection Protocols programme, which had led to a humanitarian crisis in northern Mexico.

'The third executive order promotes immigrant integration and inclusion and ensures that our legal immigration system operates fairly and efficiently by instructing agencies to review the public charge rule and related policies,' White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters.

The third order requires agencies to do a 'top-to-bottom review of recent regulations, policies and guidance that have set up barriers to our legal immigration system,' Paski said.

The first one to go would be Trump's 'public charge' rule, which prevented immigrants from getting permanent resident, or Green Card, status if they had or were likely to require public benefits such as housing subsidies.

Biden said over four million foreign-born individuals live in the US and millions more Americans have immigrants in their families or ancestry.

'New Americans and their children fuel our economy, working in every industry, including healthcare, construction, caregiving, manufacturing, service, and agriculture,' he said.

They are essential workers helping to keep the economy afloat and providing important services to Americans during a global pandemic. They have helped the US lead the world in science, technology and innovation. And they are on the frontlines of research to develop COVID-19 vaccines and treatments for those afflicted with the deadly disease, Biden asserted.

The executive order is in addition to the slew of similar orders signed by Biden on the first day of his administration and the citizenship bill that he has sent to Congress.

The bill among other things proposes to eliminate the per-country quota in Green Card allocation, a move that will benefit hundreds and thousands of Indian immigrants. The Biden administration has also decided not to pursue the move of the previous Trump administration to rescind the policy of giving work authorisation to spouses of H-1B visa holders. The move has been welcomed by legal Indian immigrants.

The global tech trade association, ITI, welcomed the Biden-Harris Administration's actions to reunite families that had been forcibly separated at the US border and to ensure a fair and efficient legal immigration system in the country.

In keeping with his administration's efforts, the ITI also urged Biden to formally rescind the Trump Administration's presidential proclamation that currently prohibits certain high-skilled immigrants from obtaining visas due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

'Keeping families together and enacting modern, fair and efficient immigration policies will strengthen communities, drive innovation and spur US economic growth. To further bolster the US economic recovery in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is critical that President Biden rescind the current suspension of high-skilled immigration.

'Our industry is committed to working with policymakers in the administration and in US Congress to advance a modern, competitive immigration system,' it said. PTI LKJ RC AKJ AKJ