Biden Signs Second Wave of Immigration Orders

Mayorkas sworn in as Homeland Security chief
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 2, 2021 7:58 PM CST
Biden Signs Second Wave of Immigration Orders
Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas listens as President Biden speaks before signing an executive order on immigration, Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021.   (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President Biden on Tuesday signed a second spate of orders to undo his predecessor’s immigration policies, demonstrating the powers of the White House and its limitations without support from Congress. His orders on family separation, border security, and legal immigration bring to nine the number of executive actions on immigration during his first two weeks in office, the AP reports. With proposed legislation to give legal status and a path to citizenship to all of the estimated 11 million people in the country who don't have it, Biden has quickly taken aim at many of Donald Trump’s sweeping changes to deter immigration, both legal and illegal, and established a vision that is likely to far outlast his tenure if he's able to muster enough support in a deeply divided Congress.

Biden rescinded some Trump actions and laid a foundation for more far-reaching repeals depending on the outcome of policy reviews over the next few months. "I’m not making new law. I’m eliminating bad policy,” he said during a signing ceremony. Alejandro Mayorkas, who was sworn in as Homeland Security secretary after his nomination was confirmed Tuesday by the Senate, will lead a task force on family separation, focused largely on reuniting parents and children who remain apart. More:

  • The review will address the possibility of legal status in the United States for separated families and providing mental health services.
  • A review of border security will include a policy that makes asylum-seekers wait in Mexican border cities for hearings in US immigration court.
  • Biden ended a policy that held asylum-seekers in Customs and Border Protection custody with virtually no access to attorneys while their claims were quickly decided.
  • He ordered reviews of a nationwide expansion of fast-track deportation authority and of agreements with Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras for the US to reject asylum applicants and instead send them to those Central American countries with an opportunity to seek protection there.
  • His order on legal immigration seeks ways to reduce backlogs and barriers to citizenship and considers scrapping Trump's "public charge rule," which makes it more difficult for people who receive government benefits to obtain green cards.
  • Biden didn't address a freeze on many temporary work visas and green cards while the economy recovers from a pandemic, as some expected.
(More immigration stories.)

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