President Biden signed three executive orders on Tuesday that aim to roll back the “stain” of Trump administration’s hardline stance on immigration, including steps to begin the reunification process of children who were separated from their parents at the Mexican border under the previous administration’s widely condemned family separation policy.
In brief remarks to reporters shortly before signing the executive orders in the Oval Office on Tuesday, Biden characterized his orders as “not making new law,” but “eliminating bad policy” from the Trump administration.
Biden said that he’s taking on Trump’s executive orders on immigration that he described as “counterproductive to our security” and “counterproductive to who we are as a country.
After emphasizing that his administration is working to have a “fair, orderly and humane, legal immigration system,” Biden railed against the “moral and national shame” of Trump era’s family separation policy — which he described as a “stain” that his administration needs to remove.
“(As) my grandfather would say, by the grace of god and goodwill of the neighbors, we’ll reunite these children and re-establish our reputation as being a haven for people in need,” Biden said.
One order formalizes Biden’s plans to direct Alejandro Mayorkas, the newly confirmed Secretary of Homeland Security, to lead a task force focused on reuniting several hundred families who remain separated under the former president’s “zero tolerance policy.” Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Biden’s attorney general nominee Merrick Garland, if confirmed, are expected to serve on that task force as well, according to the New York Times.
The other two orders give the Biden admin the green light to probe Trump’s immigration policies that imposed limitations on asylum, halted funding to foreign countries, presented more obstacles to obtain green cards or receive naturalization, and reduced legal immigration into the country.
Biden’s executive orders are, in part, a manifestation of his campaign trail commitment to undo Trump-era immigration policies. On the day of his inauguration last month, Biden reversed the Trump-era “Muslim ban,” which President Biden called “morally wrong” and “designed to target primarily Black and Brown immigrants.”
According to the Times, senior administration officials said Monday night that most of Biden’s executive orders would not implement immediate changes, but serve the purpose of giving Department of Homeland Security, the Justice Department and the State Department time to strategize plans related to undoing the former president’s agenda.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki echoed a similar sentiment during a briefing earlier Tuesday as she warned Central Americans who are considering immigrating to the country that it is “not the time” because the Biden administration needs more time to implement an immigration process “where people can be treated humanely.”
“We want to put into place an immigration process here that is humane, that is moral, that considers applications for refugees, that considers applications for people to come into this country at the border in a way that treats people as human beings. That’s going to take some time,” Psaki said. “It’s not going to happen overnight.”
Psaki stressed that the Biden administration aims to “repair the damage and the horrific actions of the prior administration” regarding immigration policies, especially the crisis that unfolded under Trump’s family separation policy.