Joe Biden has issued three executive orders to overturn Trump-era immigration policies.
The orders aim to reunite parents separated from their children at the border, tackle the root causes of immigration and evaluate the existing immigration system in America.
In his first order, Biden established an interagency task force to be chaired by the Secretary of Homeland Security to reunite parents and children separated during the Trump administration. The Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance” policy, which mandated that all adults suspected of crossing the border illegally should be prosecuted by law, caused a spike in the number of children separated from their parents.
According to DHS reports, some 1,995 children were separated from their parents in the six weeks following the announcement of the policy. A federal lawsuit in California’s Southern District has identified over 600 children, separated from their parents between 2017 and 2018, before the “zero-tolerance” policy was in place, who are yet to be reunited with their families.
The order gives scope for children and parents to be reunited by any legal means. The task force is authorised to offer recommendations about the “possible exercise of parole”, the issuing of visas and other benefits to migrants and mental health services. It will also consider the reunification of any additional family members, “where there is a compelling humanitarian interest in doing so”.
The second order seeks to address the root causes of migration, increase legal pathways for migration to the US and review current regulations. It will evaluate legal immigration programs such as the Central American Minors Program and provide legal pathways to citizenship for prospective migrants in their home countries and reduce the reliance on smuggling routes.
The order outlines a “Root Causes Strategy” that will “coordinate place-based efforts” in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras by combating corruption, gang crime and sexual or gender-based violence; strengthening democratic government; promoting a free press, addressing economic inequality and insecurity.
A new “Collaborative Management Strategy” will consider the continuing development of asylum systems and integration programs in “receiving countries” and the provision of humanitarian assistance.
In his final order, Biden outlined plans to “restore faith” in the immigration system and promote the welcome, “inclusion and integration” and naturalisation of migrants..
On signing the order, Biden declared that it would review “the previous administration’s harmful and counterproductive immigration policies, basically across the board”.
“We’ll reunite these children and reestablish our reputation as being a haven for people in need,” he continued.
The third order directs the DoS, DoJ and DHS to review Trump-era policies to determine whether they are aligned with the new administration’s aims of “integration and inclusion”. The departmental secretaries and AG will identify barriers impeding access to immigration benefits and offer recommendations to remove them.
The three department heads were charged with conducting an immediate of the ‘public charge’ rule, which permits authorities to deny green cards to migrants receiving public benefits.
“To fully remedy these [Trump immigration] actions will take time and will require a full government approach,” a senior official said.
Though these orders are a big step forward in undoing Trump-era policies, it will “take time and will require a full government approach” to fully remedy, a senior official said.
Biden’s plans have already met with resistance from the judiciary. Last week, a federal judge in Texas granted a nationwide restraining order halting the president’s proposed 100-day moratorium on the deportation of unauthorised migrants.
The decision was made after Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton sued the Biden administration on the grounds that the 100-day pause put an unfair burden on the state. It also violated, he said, an agreement made with acting Deputy Secretary of the DHS Kenneth Cuccinelli II in the last weeks of the Trump administration.