Washington, D.C. — Today, just hours after taking the oath of office, President Joe Biden signed several executive orders and presidential memoranda to begin to reverse some of the Trump administration’s worst abuses and to build a more fair, humane, and workable immigration system that reflects America at its best.
After white supremacists organized a hate-fueled rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, then-candidate Biden centered his campaign around restoring the soul of America. At the heart of America losing its way these past four years were the Trump administration’s relentless attacks on immigrants and asylum-seekers—through dehumanizing rhetoric and unconscionably cruel deeds. It is fitting and important that just hours after taking the oath of office, President Biden signed a series of executive actions to reverse some of the worst abuses of the Trump administration and lay the groundwork for something far better than what existed before.
We celebrate President Biden’s strong commitment to shoring up protections for DACA recipients, who have weathered four years of relentless attacks, and to successfully restoring the program to the way it operated before the Trump administration took office. Nearly 650,000 DACA recipients live and have built careers in the United States; they are the parents of 254,000 U.S.-citizen children and contribute $8.7 million in taxes each year. Amid the worst pandemic in a century, 200,000 DACA recipients—including an estimated 29,000 doctors, nurses, and technicians—have been on the front lines protecting Americans’ health and safety. Congress should—without delay—pass the American Dream and Promise Act (H.R.6) and send the bill to the president’s desk for signature.
Several executive actions are designed to ensure that immigration and border enforcement going forward reflects the sensible and humane values of this administration and not those of its predecessor. The repeal of Trump’s week-one interior enforcement executive order should begin the process of moving away from the failed mass detention and deportation approach that has long dominated our immigration system and toward an approach that prioritizes bringing people into compliance with the law and treating people with basic dignity and respect. By halting construction of the border wall, ending the fake national emergency declaration, and redirecting funds, President Biden is reaffirming his commitment to respecting border communities and promoting real border governance.
Immediately terminating the Muslim ban and similar entry bans puts an end to a series of discriminatory and malicious bans that undermined the core principles and values of our country. And by reversing Trump’s illegal executive order to exclude undocumented immigrants from the constitutionally mandated census, President Biden is ensuring that we have an accurate count of every person in every corner of the country.
Finally, the extension of Deferred Enforced Departure for Liberian nationals in the country today will allow thousands of these longtime residents to have a meaningful opportunity to become lawful permanent residents under an administration committed to making the Liberian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act work rather than sabotaging it at every step.
The executive actions that President Biden signed today are only the beginning, and we expect more to follow in the days and weeks ahead. To repair the damage done by the previous administration and begin to build back better, the Biden administration will need a sustained commitment to using the power of the presidency and the executive branch. But even so, the robust use of executive authority can never eliminate the need for the significant legislative reforms that are required to create an immigration system that is more fair, humane, and workable and that restores faith in the rule of law. Today—and together with the details released about the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021—we celebrate this collection of executive actions that is a necessary and welcome step in that direction.