President Biden Continues Action on Immigration

Ronnate Asirwatham
February 8, 2021

Last week, President Biden signed three new executive orders on immigration, actions critical to respecting the rights and dignity of immigrants in our nation, and respecting and honoring family unity.

  1. Task force to reunite families

The first executive order he signed creates a task force to reunite children in the U.S. with their parents who were deported under the Trump administration.

  1. Review MPP and the misuse of Title 42 public health authority

Another order directed newly sworn in DHS Secretary Mayorkas to “promptly review and determine whether to terminate or modify” the Migrant Protection Protocols program, which forced asylum seekers to remain in Mexico while waiting for court proceedings. With a backlog of thousands of cases, this policy forced immigrants and asylum seekers from many countries to spend months or years in dangerous and inhumane conditions waiting for court decisions. The order also includes the review of the misuse of Title 42 public health authority, and the third-country transit ban. The Title 42 public health authority has enable ICE and CBP to expel asylum seekers and unaccompanied children without any due process. While we welcome this review we would ask that the use of Title 42 be suspended while the review is being conducted, just like the MPP.

  1. Review public charge

Finally, in his third executive order, President Biden instructed heads of agencies to review the public charge rule, which the Trump administration changed to effectively impose a racially-motivated wealth test on immigrants, punishing legal immigrants who use public benefits by hurting their chances to receive green cards.

These actions build on the executive orders signed two weeks ago, on the first day of the Biden-Harris administration. Previously, President Biden fortified DACA (the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program), which was under constant threat during the Trump presidency, reinstated DED (Deferred Enforced Departure) for Liberians, halted funds to Trump’s border wall, and ended the travel ban on Muslim-majority and African countries.

Stopping Unjust Deportations

President Biden’s acting DHS Secretary issued a 100-day moratorium on deportations on January 20, 2021, however, a Texas federal judge barred enforcement of the moratorium until February 23. This stay on the moratorium only affects Texas.

However despite the acting Secretary’s stay order ICE (Immigrations and Customs Enforcement) continued carrying out deportation flights, including flights to Jamaica, Honduras, Guatemala, and Haiti.

Because of a lot of nationwide advocacy and activism.  a deportation flight  with immigrants from Cameroon, Angola, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo was cancelled. However other flights especially those to Haiti have continued and this is having a devastating effect on Black Haitian communities. We are working with several advocacy groups to ensure future deportation flights are  cancelled until all cases can be reviewed. A majority of immigrants who are being deported post inauguration are those who have been expelled under the Title 42 order and therefore they have not been given any due process rights.

Looking Ahead to Comprehensive Immigration Legislation

As President Biden signed the executive orders, he said, “I’m not making new law. I’m eliminating bad policy.” In the coming weeks and months, President Biden and members of Congress plan to pass a new law (or laws) to reform our immigration system. Some legislation is familiar – the Dream Act, the Dream and Promise Act, and the Farm Workforce Modernization Act have been introduced in previous congresses – but President Biden also seeks to pass broader reform. This will be a critical opportunity to build our immigration system anew, and we will keep NETWORK members updated on how to support this legislation.