President Joe Biden is off to a good start on the immigration front, reversing the draconian policies of Donald Trump and doing his best to make up for the Barack Obama immigration policies that earned the U.S.’ first Black president the nickname ‘Deporter-in-Chief.’ Here are five things President Biden has already delivered for immigrants in just three days in office, via executive action:
1: President Biden has strengthened the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that protects Dreamers from deportation. Trump had sought since he took office to end the program, but the courts were able to sustain it. With the stroke of his pen, Biden reinstated the program while also calling on Congress to enact legislation to provide Dreamers with permanent status and a path to citizenship.
2: Yet another order blocks the deportation of Liberians who have been living in the United States under Temporary Protected Status (TPS), that had been reversed by Trump. The Biden executive reinstated the Deferred Enforced Departure for Liberians, who were forced to flee their country as a result of armed conflict and widespread civil strife and were granted TPS here.
3: Another executive order revokes the Trump administration’s plan to exclude non-citizens from the 2020 Census count. As the order states, the Census report must reflect “the whole number of persons in each State” and “the number of Representatives to which each State would be entitled under” the equal proportions apportionment method. Trump had been fighting in court to stop undocumented immigrants were counting in the Census.
4: President Biden has halted most deportations for 100 days via executive action, beginning on Friday, Jan. 22, 2020, two days after he took the oath of office. According to David Pekoske, acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, the 100-day halt on deportations is intended to give the DHS time to steer its “limited resources” toward border security and other priorities, such as reassessing asylum procedures. It applies to those who arrived in the U.S. prior to Nov. 1, 2020. Anyone who arrived after that date or is deemed a threat to national security or considered to be a threat to public safety, however, will still be subject to deportation.
5: The new president has also ended the so-called Muslim ban, which blocked travel to the U.S. from several predominantly Muslim and African countries. Through executive order, President Biden has directed the U.S. State Department to restart visa processing for individuals from the affected countries and to develop ways to address the harm caused to those who were prevented from coming to here because of the ban.
The new president has also already presented a comprehensive immigration reform plan––titled the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021––that will be sent to the Congress to ensure a sweeping overhaul. As Obama did with health care, Biden looks set to make immigration his signature deliverable out of the gate. The proposed bill, if passed, would put undocumented immigrants who have been in the U.S. as of Jan. 1, 2021 on an eight-year pathway to citizenship, if they have no criminal record and they pay taxes and pass background checks.
Biden also wants to fund border security measures using technology, rather than a physical wall, and provide assistance to countries with high numbers of immigrants to help them create opportunities in their own countries and prevent constant migration. He also proposes removing the word “alien” from U.S. immigration laws, replacing it with the term “non-citizen.”
The writer is publisher of NewsAmericasNow