Biden Issues Orders to Dismantle Trump’s ‘America First’ Immigration Agenda

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Officials and immigration advocates said the orders, which aim to reunite separated migrant families and review the former president’s actions, will broadly reshape policy, but not immediately.

President Biden moved cautiously on Tuesday to confront the most intractable immigration issues that his predecessor left behind: reuniting migrant children separated from their families, rebuilding a working asylum system and restoring opportunities for foreign workers and students to enter the country.

As a candidate, Mr. Biden vowed to once again welcome immigrants to American shores by quickly rolling back hundreds of actions by President Donald J. Trump that were aimed at deporting immigrants and shutting the country off from those seeking work or refuge.

A trio of executive orders signed on Tuesday reflect a reimagining of America’s place in the world after four years of Mr. Trump’s “America First” vision. But administration officials and immigration advocates cautioned that will not happen immediately. Mr. Biden’s government is wary of flinging open the border until it has rebuilt an asylum and refugee system that can process potentially large influxes of people.

With thousands of migrants already living in squalid camps on the Mexican side of the border, a crisis could develop quickly, and that would be a nightmare for the new president this early in his term. And the effort to locate parents and children separated in the summer of 2018 will take months, if not years.

Mr. Biden said the orders would also begin to address “the root causes” of migration toward the southern border and begin a “full review of the previous administration’s harmful and counterproductive immigration policies.”

“There’s a lot of talk, with good reason, about the number of executive orders that I have signed,” he added. “I’m not making new law. I’m eliminating bad policy.”

Mr. Biden’s actions came just hours after the Senate confirmed Alejandro N. Mayorkas as secretary of homeland security, with all but seven Republicans voting no in a show of their opposition to Mr. Biden’s immigration agenda. The vote underscored the deep divide that persists in Washington about how the country treats foreigners.

“We’re going to work to undo the moral and national shame of the previous administration that literally, not figuratively, ripped children from the arms of their families, the mothers and fathers at the border, and with no plan — none whatsoever — to reunify the children,” Mr. Biden said as he signed the orders in the Oval Office.

Mr. Biden said the orders would also begin to address “the root causes” of migration toward the southern border and begin a “full review of the previous administration’s harmful and counterproductive immigration policies.”

“There’s a lot of talk, with good reason, about the number of executive orders that I have signed,” he added. “I’m not making new law. I’m eliminating bad policy.”

Mr. Biden’s actions came just hours after the Senate confirmed Alejandro N. Mayorkas as secretary of homeland security, with all but seven Republicans voting no in a show of their opposition to Mr. Biden’s immigration agenda. The vote underscored the deep divide that persists in Washington about how the country treats foreigners.

 

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