Here are some of Bidens biggest moves in his first week of Presidency:
On immigration, Biden plans to establish a task force focused on reuniting migrant families who were separated as a result of the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy, according to a memo outlining the upcoming executive actions obtained by The Hill. Biden will order an immediate review of the public-charge rule, which denies U.S. entry to migrants considered likely to become dependent on the government. He also plans to roll back Trump administration policies on asylum and take “other actions to remove barriers and restore trust in the legal immigration system, including improving the naturalization process.”
Biden issued a memorandum to the Justice and Homeland Security departments strengthening the Obama-era DACA program that was a top target of the Trump administration. The memorandum allows the government to accept new applications for the DACA program and orders the two agencies to “take all actions … consistent with applicable law, to preserve and fortify DACA.” The program protects immigrants brought to the country illegally as minors from deportation.
Biden is revoking a Trump-era policy that cracked down on communities shielding undocumented immigrants from deportation. In addition, undocumented immigrants will now be counted in the national census count, according to Biden’s order, which overturned Trump’s attempt to exclude them during the 2020 census. Biden also terminated the construction and funding of the wall at the U.S. southern border—a key promise of the Trump administration. The Trump administration says they’ve completed 452 miles (727 km) of new border wall in total, according to the latest US Customs and Border Protection Information. The vast majority is replacing older structures.
Biden reinstated COVID-19 travel restrictions affecting non-U.S. citizens attempting to enter the United States from South America, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Brazil, and several European countries. Additionally, the ban will bar most non-U.S. citizens from entry if they have recently been in South Africa, where a new strain of COVID-19 has been identified. Travel bans imposed by Trump on countries such as Brazil were set to expire on Tuesday. Biden’s team previously indicated that he wouldn’t keep Trump’s directive rescinding many of the imposed travel restrictions. Around the time of Trump announcing the China ban last year, Biden accused Trump of “xenophobia.” In a later tweet he responded directly to one of Trump’s posts touting the ban. “Stop the xenophobic fear-mongering,” Biden tweeted. “Be honest. Take responsibility. Do your job” [NBC].
On racial issues, Biden ordered his government to conduct equity assessments of its agencies and reallocate resources to “advanc[e] equity for all, including people of color and others who have been historically underserved, marginalized and adversely affected by persistent poverty and inequality.” He also issued a proclamation reversing Trump’s policy that barred entry to the U.S. for residents from seven predominantly Muslim countries and orders plans within 45 days for resuming visa processing.
Alongside a variety of actions to “advance environmental justice,” Biden revoked the permit for the controversial Keystone XL pipeline — a 1,200-mile pipeline system projected to carry crude oil from Canada to the U.S. that cuts through Indigenous lands. The measure also restored several national monuments whose footprints were reduced by Trump and paused oil and gas leasing in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Fulfilling one of his top campaign promises, Biden committed to putting the U.S. back in the Paris Agreement on climate change — an international pact aimed at curbing emissions that cause global warming. Trump withdrew from the agreement in 2017, citing the extreme one-sided costs to American taxpayers.
Undoing Trump-era regulations that rolled back protections for federal employees, Biden revoked a variety of measures, including a rule that made it easier to hire and fire civil servants in policy-making positions. The order also requested the Department of Labor to develop recommendations that all federal government employees receive a minimum wage of $15 an hour. Biden’s order establishing “benefit delivery teams” will enact “a network of benefit delivery teams,” which will coordinate with state and federal agencies to facilitate the distribution of federal aid amid the pandemic. Biden has requested that the Department of Labor consider clarifying its rules to establish that workers “have a federally guaranteed right to refuse employment that will jeopardize their health,” and that workers who do so will still qualify for unemployment insurance.
Concerning the coronavirus, Biden has mandated mask-wearing and social distancing on all federal properties. While it’s unclear if the president lacks the authority to institute a nationwide mask mandate, the order also “encourage[s] masking across America.” Biden’s order created the position of COVID-19 response coordinator, who will advise the president and oversee the distribution of vaccines, tests and other supplies. Biden did, however, mandate mask-wearing on all forms of public transportation, including in airports, airplanes and buses. Biden also signed an executive order reversing the U.S. withdrawal from the WHO that was triggered by former President Trump. Trump said last year the U.S. would leave the body due to complaints over its response to the coronavirus, but withdrawal takes a year to go into effect and would not have formally occurred until July.
Biden sent a memorandum to the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security ordering them to boost federal support for National Guard deployments, including directing the Federal Emergency Management Agency to “fund 100 percent of the cost of activities associated with all mission assignments for the use of the National Guard…to respond to COVID-19.” Biden also revoked a military ban which prohibited gender-transitioning by servicemembers while in the military, and barred acceptance of recruits with a current diagnosis of gender dysphoria [NC Register].
Biden requested the heads of various departments to assess the nationwide availability of personal protective equipment and other resources needed to distribute COVID-19 tests and coronavirus vaccines, as well as to develop a strategy to manufacture supplies for “future pandemics and biological threats.” Another of Biden’s orders on the nation’s COVID-19 response directed all department and agency heads to “facilitate the gathering, sharing and publication of COVID-19-related data” in order to inform their decision-making and public understanding of the pandemic. He also directed the secretary of health to support research on COVID-19 treatments and increase support for critical care and long-term care facilities like nursing homes — which have been among the sites hit hardest by the pandemic [The Hill].
ARTICLE: LUKE MOCHERMAN
POLITICS EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: THE INDEPENDENT