Lifting of immigration restrictions on 13 countries, stoppage of the border wall construction on the U.S.-Mexico border are some of the Donald Trump administration’s policies reversed yesterday by United States (U.S.) President Joe Biden on his first day in office.
Swiftly moving to dismantle Trump’s controversial legacies, Biden suspended most deportations from the interior of the U.S.
Citizens from 13 countries, including Nigeria, Eritrea, Yemen and Sudan were affected by the travel and immigration restriction order of former President Trump, who described the affected nationals as “Dreamers.”
Biden signed 17 executive orders — including six immigration-related directives to reverse the Trump policies— shortly after being sworn in on Wednesday as the country’s 46th president.
The Department of Homeland Security also announced it would implement a 100-day moratorium on deportations for immigrants in the U.S. facing removal, and suspended the Trump administration’s policy of requiring non-Mexican asylum-seekers to wait in Mexico for their U.S. court hearings.
Through the flurry of early actions, Biden signaled his willingness to roll back former President Donald Trump’s restrictive immigration measures using the same executive authority that his predecessor invoked to enact more than 400 unilateral changes.
One memo signed by Biden ordered the Departments of Homeland Security to safeguard the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) programme that offers works permits and deportation relief to more than 640,000 undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children.
Trump’s attempts to suspend DACA were all blocked in court, but a federal judge in Texas has yet to rule on a lawsuit filed by Republican state attorneys general who are asking for the program to be declared unlawful.
The order revoking Trump’s travel and immigration restrictions on a group of 13 nations, most of which are predominantly Muslim or African, instructed the State Department to begin processing visa applications from the 13 countries.
“Those actions are a stain on our national conscience and are inconsistent with our long history of welcoming people of all faiths and no faith at all”, Biden wrote, referring to Trump’s restrictions, which he accused of being discriminatory.
Biden, through another directive, rescinded an order signed by Trump in January 2017 that broadened who immigration agents could arrest and deport. Mr. Biden said his administration would “reset” policies governing who immigration officials should prioritize for deportation.
Biden writes: “The policy of my administration is to protect national and border security, address the humanitarian challenges at the southern border, and ensure public health and safety. We must also adhere to due process of law as we safeguard the dignity and well-being of all families and communities.”
In a memo, Acting DHS Secretary David Pekoske issued interim guidance instructing U.S. immigration officers to focus on deporting immigrants found to pose a national security threat, recent border-crossers and those who have been convicted of certain crimes.
Pekoske also said the deportation freeze would not apply to migrants who arrived in the U.S. after November 1, 2020; those who pose a national security risk or are suspected of terrorism or espionage; and immigrants who agree to voluntarily leave the country.