On February 2, 2021, President Biden signed several executive orders related to immigration. In his remarks, accompanied by newly confirmed Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, President Biden articulated his belief that the U.S. is safer and more prosperous when it has a safe and fair immigration system. These orders are largely a reversal of hardline policies put in place by former President Trump. They focus largely on migration across the southern border and refugee and asylum policies. The orders do not address high skilled immigration, education related immigration policies, or COVID-19 related travel restrictions that have been put in place over the last year. These orders direct reviews of policies and do not, for the most part, have significant immediate impacts. Specifically, the orders:
- Create a Task Force to Reunify Families: The Task Force will be chaired by the Department of Homeland Security and will work across the U.S. government, with representatives of impacted families, and partners to find parents and children separated at the border during the Trump administration. First Lady Jill Biden is expected to take an active role in this effort, along with the Departments of State, Health and Human Services, and Justice. This Biden administration has also revoked the Trump administration Executive Order that instituted the family separation policy.
- Address the Root Causes of Migration Across the Southern Border: Based on the belief that many who migrate across the southern border do so because of instability, violence, and economic insecurity at home, this order establishes a plan to stem the flow of migrants to the U.S.-Mexico border. The order commits to 1) address the underlying causes of migration in the region, 2) collaborate with regional partners to ensure protection and opportunities for asylum seekers, and 3) ensure that refugees and asylum seekers have legal avenues to the United States. The action also orders the Homeland Security Secretary to review the Migrant Protection Protocols (also known as the “Remain in Mexico” program), which sends asylum seekers to wait outside the U.S. while their claims are processed.
- Establish a Review of Trump Administration Immigration Policies: Touting the benefits of immigration and the contributions of immigrants to the U.S., this executive order seeks to develop strategies that support legal immigration into the United States. The order 1) mandates a review of policies and guidelines that have set up barriers to U.S. legal immigration, 2) re-establishes a Task Force on New Americans to focus on integrating immigrants and refugees, and 3) requires a review of the Trump administration’s Public Charge Rule, which does not allow citizenship for immigrants who receive public benefits.
- Executive Order on the Establishment of Interagency Task Force on the Reunification of Families
- Executive Order on 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
- Executive Order on Restoring Faith in Our Legal Immigration Systems and Strengthening Integration and Inclusion Efforts for New Americans
- FACT SHEET: President Biden Outlines Steps to Reform Our Immigration System by Keeping Families Together, Addressing the Root Causes of Irregular Migration, and Streamlining the Legal Immigration System
- Video of President Biden’s Remarks