On February 2, 2021, President Joe Biden signed several executive orders aimed at reversing harsh immigration policies implemented by the Trump Administration. One order establishes the Family Reunification Task Force, which will attempt to reunite parents and children that were separated at the border under Trump’s zero-tolerance policy. A second order establishes a plan to examine migration to the United States as well as the asylum process. The third order directs several U.S. departments to review numerous immigration policies developed by the Trump Administration including the public charge rule, health insurance proclamation, and increase in immigration filing fees.
All three executive orders described above are aimed at improving the U.S. immigration system, which was heavily targeted by the Trump Administration. The first order, which calls for the development of a Family Reunification Task Force, will allow the Biden Administration the opportunity to reunite approximately 600 children with their parents after having been separated at the border. President Biden has called these separations a “moral failing.”
The second order signed by President Biden, calling for evaluation of the immigration system, will review the Central American Minors program, which began under President Obama. The Trump Administration terminated this program in 2017, which allowed children from certain regions to reunite with their families in the United States. The order also calls for review of Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” policy. This policy has left tens of thousands of asylum seekers from Central America stranded in Northern Mexico while they wait for immigration hearings.
President Biden’s third order directs several U.S. departments to review guidelines implemented under the Trump Administration “to determine whether they are in line with the government’s desire to promote ‘integration and inclusion.’” This will include review of the public charge rule, which allowed for denial of visas and lawful permanent residence for applicants that were determined likely to be dependent on government benefits.
Overall, the recent executive orders signed by President Biden are a welcome change from the devastating immigration policies set by the Trump Administration. Although change may take time, immigrants and advocates are hopeful for positive reform in the future.