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Feb 5, 2021

President Joe Biden Rolls Back Several Trump-Era Immigration Policies

Jonathan A. Grode and Andrew Clancy Rodgers

President Joe Biden wasted no time when, on February 2nd, just two weeks after taking office, he followed through on some of his campaign promises through three executive orders aimed at dismantling the Trump administration’s ‘America First’ immigration agenda. The three orders bring the total number of executive orders on immigration to nine in just two weeks since he’s been in office. The executive orders signed Tuesday will create a task force to reunite children who were separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border, develop a strategy to address irregular migration across the Southern Border and create a humane asylum system, and restore faith in our legal immigration system and promote integration of new Americans. In all, Biden revoked seven Trump-era executive orders on immigration.

Executive Order 1: Establishment of Interagency Task Force on the Reunification of Families

Main points:

  • Creates a taskforce whose mission is to identify children separated from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border and reunite them with their parents;
  • Taskforce will provide recommendations on:
    • Exercise of agency authorities to help with reunification;
    • Possible exercise of parole, or issuance of visas or other immigration benefits; and
    • Social services for children and their families such as mental health and trauma services.
  • Taskforce will provide reports to the President 120 days after the initial order and progress reports every 60 days thereafter.

Alejandro Mayorkas, the newly confirmed United States Homeland Security Secretary, is charged with leading the Interagency Task Force on the Reunification of Families. About 5,500 children have been identified in court documents as having been separated at the U.S.-Mexico border during Trump’s presidency, according to the Associated Press. Secretary Mayorkas will work together with the Secretary of State, Secretary of Health and Human Services, and the Attorney General in reversing the human rights violations at the hands of the Trump Administration’s ‘Zero-Tolerance Policy.’ This executive order revokes President Trump’s Executive Order 13841 Affording Congress an Opportunity to Address Family Separation, signed on June 20, 2018, which stated it was “unfortunate that Congress’s failure to act and court orders have put the Administration in the position of separating alien families to effectively enforce the law.”

Executive Order 2: Creating a Comprehensive Regional Framework to Address the Causes of Migration, to Manage Migration Throughout North and Central America, and to Provide Safe and Orderly Processing of Asylum Seekers at the United States Border

Main Points:

  • Review Trump-era policies and agreements with Northern Triangle countries(Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras), including Migrant Protection Protocol (MPP);
  • Establish a strategy for addressing the causes of migration in the region;
  • Expand Central and North American countries’ asylum systems and resettlement capacity;
  • Increase opportunities for vulnerable populations to apply for protection closer to home; and
  • Enhance legal pathways for migration to the United States by restoring and strengthening the U.S. asylum system.

President Biden ordered the State Department to (1) consider suspending the interim final rule “Implementing Bilateral and Multilateral Asylum Cooperative Agreements Under the Immigration and Nationality Act” and, (2) notify the Northern Triangle that the Administration plans on terminating agreements made with the Trump Administration in favor of new “mutually respectful” approaches to migration.

The order requires Secretary Mayorkas to review the Trump Administration’s “Remain in Mexico” policy, known officially as MPP that makes asylum-seekers wait in Mexican border cities for hearings in U.S. immigration court.

Secretary Mayorkas needs to recommend whether to terminate or modify the program. President Biden wants a strategy for those who are already enrolled in the program to be able to come to the United States while they await their hearing.

Executive Order 3: Restoring Faith in Our Legal Immigration Systems and Strengthening Integration and Inclusion Efforts for New Americans

Main Point:

  • Restoring faith in our immigration requires the review of existing rules and regulations

The final executive order requires the Secretary of State, Attorney General, and the Secretary of Homeland Security to review existing regulations that are inconsistent with this Administration’s immigration goals including the public charge policies’ effect on the integrity of the Nation’s immigration system.

Green and Spiegel, as well as various immigration advocates feel that the Executive Orders do not go far enough in reversing the harms created by the Trump administration. In fact, we were hoping that the ban on processing certain immigrant and nonimmigrant visas at Consular Posts would have been lifted which, in turn, would ease international travel and family reunification.

Green and Spiegel will continue to provide updates to changes in immigration law via executive order and congressional statutes. We are monitoring this situation closely and will continue to update our blog and provide E-Alerts to advise on the latest developments. As always, we strongly encourage you to reach out to our office if you have any questions regarding if or how these changes impact you and your family. Our office number is (215)395-8959, and we can be reached via webPlease contact us if you have any immediate need for assistance.

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Jonathan Grode

Jonathan A. Grode



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