Joe Biden Signs Several Immigration Executive Actions Day 1 in Office as a Way to Erase the Trump Administration’s Legacy 

By: Alexandra Cimo

On just his first day in office, President Joe Biden made it a point to erase major parts of the Trump administration’s immigration legacy.[1]  He got straight to work, just several hours after taking oath in front of millions of people on National Television, and signed several Executive Orders as a way to deliver some of the longstanding promises he had been making throughout his campaign[2]. One of these orders, in particular, was meant to bring back a “foundation of religious freedom and tolerance, a principle enshrined in the United States Constitution.”[3]  President Biden’s Proclamation on Ending Discriminatory Bans on Entry to the United States discusses the harmful Executive Orders and Proclamations made by the Trump Administration that not only contravened our values, but jeopardized “our global network of alliances and partnerships” and are a “moral blight that has dulled the power of our example over the world.”[4] According to Biden’s Administration, these acts separated loved ones and inflicted pain that would have a rippling effect in the future. Additionally, President Biden signed the Preserving and Fortifying Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), where he set out to preserve the program implemented by the Obama Administration in 2012. According to the order, DACA “reflects a judgment that these immigrants should not be a priority for removal based on humanitarian concerns, and that work authorization will enable them to support themselves and their families, and to contribute to our economy, while they remain.” [5]President Biden’s impactful decision to sign this Executive Order the first day he took office was symbolic of his strong commitment to diversity and inclusion.

Before discussing the effect of these executive actions, it is important to first understand what executive orders and proclamations are. In Trump’s four-year term he issued 222 Orders.[6] Many of these executive orders being highly controversial and gaining much media attention.  What exactly is an executive order or proclamation? Executive orders are one of the most common presidential documents and every American president has issued at least one, starting with George Washington.[7] These orders are signed, written, and published directives from the President of the United States.[8] These orders are easy to implement, but are just as easily reversed. [9] It is important to note that they are not legislation and require no approval from Congress. Congress cannot simply overturn them, but they may pass legislation making it difficult to implement the order.[10] The sitting U.S. President is the only one with the power to overturn an existing executive order by issuing another executive order.[11] Proclamations, on the other hand, communicate information on holidays, federal observances, commemorations, and trade.[12]

Although these orders are not a permanent fix to the myriad of immigration problems, they are a step in the right direction. President Biden’s proclamation states that the ban from allowing individuals from primarily Muslim and African countries as a means of national security had no basis.[13] The proclamation declares that if there are to be threats to our Nation, those threats will be addressed then, but that this country will not turn its back on its values with discriminatory bans on entry into the United States.[14] In lay terms, President Biden is taking a stance on the discriminatory immigration policies set by the Trump Administration and committing to bringing back the Nation to its value of inclusion. With regards to his order on DACA, President Biden reinstated DACA, allowing those eligible immigrant youth who were brought to the United States when they were children to have work authorization, a pathway to citizenship, and freedom from being deported. [15] To refresh, Dreamers are undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as a child. These Dreamers often know only the United States as being their home.[16] There are as many as 3.6 million Dreamers residing in the country, many of whom were not allowed to apply for DACA during the Trump Administration. As of October 2020, there were approximately 653,560 DACA recipients and 61,000 Dreamers aging into eligibility. [17]

 

 

 

 

 

[1] Camilo Montoya-Galvez. Biden moves to reverse Trump’s immigration agenda, pausing deportations and safeguarding DACA. (January 20, 2021). https://www.cbsnews.com/news/biden-immigration-executive-orders-daca-reverse-trump-policies/

[2] David Bauder. “Biden Second Only to Reagan and Obama with TV Viewers.” https://apnews.com/article/joe-biden-donald-trump-new-york-ronald-reagan-television-cebdb622a8d8e93fd01f4820d559c9d3

[3] Proclamation No. 10141, 86 Fed. Reg. 7005 (Jan. 20, 2021).

[4] Id.

[5] Exec. Order No. 01769, 86 Fed. Reg. 7053 (January 20, 2021).

[6]The American Presidency Project, (January 29, 2021). https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/statistics/data/executive-orders

[7] American Bar Association., Division for Public Education, Division for Public Education, What is an Executive Order? https://www.americanbar.org/groups/public_education/publications/teaching-legal-docs/what-is-an-executive-order-/

[8] Id.

[9] Id.

[10] Id.

[11] Id.

[12] Id.

[13] Proclamation No. 10141, 86 Fed. Reg. 7005 (Jan. 20, 2021).

[14] Id.

[15] Laurence Benenson. Fact Sheet: Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA), National Immigration Forum. (October 2020), https://immigrationforum.org/article/fact-sheet-on-deferred-action-for-childhood-arrivals-daca/

[16] Id.

[17] Id.

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