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On Tuesday, February 2nd, President Biden signed 3 executive orders focused on immigration. These orders are the Biden administration’s first step to undo damage from the Trump administration’s devastating policies.

Here is a quick overview of the 3 Immigration Executive Orders:

  1. Establish the Family Reunification Task Force: This task force will focus on the reunification of thousands of migrant families, including hundreds of children, who are still separated as a result of Trump’s zero tolerance policy at the southern U.S. border. This task force will be led by Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, who was confirmed on Tuesday by the Senate to lead the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). This task force will recommend steps that focus on reunifying families, providing mental health and trauma support for the families, and the possible provision of certain immigration benefits. A report from of their findings will be provided after 120 days. Some of us think that the separated families should be put on a path to expedited citizenship given the government-sanction torture inflicted on them by the Trump Administration.

  2. Focus Develop a strategy to address migration at the southern U.S. border and reform the asylum system. The Biden administration plans to use a three-pronged strategy:

    1. Address the root causes of migration and provide aid to El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala to address the country conditions that force their citizens to seek safety elsewhere;

    2. Collaborate with foreign governments and NGOs to help asylum-seekers find safety in neighboring countries, where possible; and

    3. Improve access to justice for Central American migrants and asylum seekers in the U.S.

    4. Additional asylum measures under consideration include restarting the Central American Minors parole program and potentially terminating the MPP program, which requires asylum seekers to stay in unsafe and unsanitary tent camps Mexico while there asylum case is pending. They will also review “safe-third-country” agreements with El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala, and determine “whether the United States provides protection for those fleeing domestic or gang violence,” from countries where law enforcement is either unwilling or unable to protect their own citizens.

  3. Review of Trump’s public charge rule and reestablish the Task Force on New Americans. Agencies must “conduct a a full review of recent regulations, policies, and guidance that have limited legal immigration and naturalization.” One regulation under review will be Trump’s ‘public charge rule’, which limited immigration opportunities for those who might need to rely on public assistance or social programs. Overall, this executive aims to repair the legal immigration system and develop strategies that promote immigrant integration and inclusion..

Some are critical of Biden’s early reliance on executive orders, a frequently-used approach in both the Obama and Trump administration. In response, President Biden told reporters, “There’s a lot of talk, with good reason, about the number of executive orders I’ve signed. I’m not making new law. I’m eliminating bad policy.” We will have to wait and see what actions the Biden administration decides to take in regards to immigration reform, but it is clear that there is a lot of work to be done.

Want to learn more about recent immigration news? Join us on Friday, February 5th for our monthly Facebook Live event ‘First Fridays with Fiona’.

Fiona will provide updates on immigration news including the travel bans, the upcoming H-1B visa lottery, possible immigration reform, the O-1 extraordinary ability visa, and more. We will also try to answer some questions, but the goal is to provide general information and it should not be taken as specific legal advice.

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