Immigration Update: President Biden Signs 3 New Executive Orders
February 2, 2021 has proven to be an exciting and productive day for United States immigration policy. Not only did the U.S. Senate confirm the first immigrant and the first Latino to be Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), but President Biden signed three executive orders targeted at improving immigration policy in this country.
Accordingly, in this article we will talk about the new DHS Secretary, and then give you a substantive summary of each of President Biden’s executive orders. The executive orders spell very good news for immigrants already in this country, and they are laser focused on rolling back some of the more harmful immigration policies of the past four years, like family separation.
If, after reading this article, you have more questions about recent immigration changes, then we invite you to contact us at Ashoori Law. Feel free to call us at +1-818-741-1117 or you may request a free consultation by clicking this link.
The First Immigrant to Serve as DHS Secretary
On February 2, 2021, Alejandro Mayorkas was officially sworn in as the new Secretary of Homeland Security. He now leads the third largest federal department in the United States, which includes the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Transportation Security Administration, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and the United States Secret Service.
What is historic about Secretary Mayorkas’ confirmation is that he is the first Latino and the first immigrant to serve as DHS Secretary. He came to the United States as a child along with his sister and parents after fleeing Cuba in 1960. Thus, for the first time ever, the person making decisions on immigration policy on a daily basis is someone who understands firsthand what it is like to be a foreign-born immigrant in the U.S. That news can only be a source of comfort for the 40 million foreign-born immigrants currently living in the U.S.
President Biden Signs 3 Executive Orders to Improve U.S. Immigration Policy
President Biden waited to make sure that his pick for DHS Secretary was confirmed by the Senate before he moved forward with his immigration initiatives. And, as soon as Secretary Mayorkas was confirmed, President Biden came out of the gate with three ambitious executive orders. Let’s take a closer look at each one.
1. Restoring Faith in Our Legal Immigration System
In this first executive order, titled Executive Order on Restoring Faith in Our Legal Immigration Systems and Strengthening Integration and Inclusion Efforts for New Americans, President Biden wanted to make clear that the U.S. immigration policy has three main pillars:
- To encourage full participation by immigrants in our civic life;
- To effectively and efficiently deliver immigration services; and
- To eliminate sources of fear and other barriers that prevent immigrants from accessing government services available to them.
It will come as no surprise to anyone that the previous administration’s policies and attitude towards immigration was hostile to immigrants and, in turn, caused great fear in those in the U.S. who were not citizens.
President Biden’s executive order, therefore, is a strong step forward in trying to ‘right the ship’ with regard to how immigrants are treated in this country. In fact, that intent is demonstrated by the fact that the executive order itself is titled “Restoring Faith” in our immigration system.
In order to restore faith and trust in the U.S. immigration system, President Biden’s executive order seeks to do many things, including:
- Develop welcoming strategies that promote integration, inclusion, and citizenship, while embracing the full participation of the newest Americans in our democracy;
- Review existing policies that currently hamper legal immigration;
- Conduct a thorough review of the “public charge rule” (which the previous administration interpreted broadly in order to deny visas);
- Make sweeping improvements to the naturalization process for those seeking to become U.S. citizens, such as reducing processing time, reducing fees, and bringing back the fee waiver; and
- Review denaturalization to ensure that the process of revoking citizenship is not used excessively or inappropriately.
2. Address the Causes of Migration in North and Central America
This second executive order, with the lengthy title 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, acknowledges a fundamental tension with regard to the U.S. southern border.
The tension lies in the fact that immigrants from Central America often come to this country with little more than the clothes on their backs, fleeing instability, and with a desire to achieve the American Dream; but the U.S. has borders that need to be enforced according to law.
In addressing that tension, the Biden Administration explains that securing the border does not mean that the U.S. is permitted to ignore the humanity of those who seek to cross the border.
Accordingly, this executive order seeks to implement a “multi-pronged approach toward managing migration throughout North and Central America that reflects the Nation’s highest values.” The approach contemplates three main things:
- A strategy to address the causes of migration at the U.S. southern border;
- An expansion of lawful pathways for migration to the U.S.; and
- An improvement of the U.S. asylum system, “which has been badly damaged by policies enacted over the last 4 years.”
3. Fix the Humanitarian Crisis Created by the Trump Administration’s Family Separation Policy
The third executive order, titled Executive Order on the Establishment of Interagency Task Force on the Reunification of Families, is directed at the “human tragedy” created by the previous administration’s policy of separating children from their parents at the U.S. southern border. In fact, the Biden Administration expressly “condemned” the previous administration’s use of immigration law to intentionally separate children from their parents at the border.
Thus, this executive order calls for the establishment of an interagency task force to reunify families. The task force is charged with doing whatever is necessary, in accordance with U.S. law, to facilitate the reunification of each child. Such actions could include the use of parole, or the issuance of visas or other immigration benefits. Also, the executive order contemplates the provision of psychological support when necessary.
There has been a lot of activity on the immigration front. With three executive orders signed by President Biden, his Administration will improve the legal immigration and naturalization processes, will identify the issues of migration at the southern border, and will assemble a task force to reunify families. All of those will be positive developments in U.S. immigration policy.
It is unfortunate that certain executive orders from 2020, in which the previous administration suspended the issuance of certain visas, were not revoked by the Biden Administration on February 2, 2021. That said, there is still a chance that they still may be revoked, and those 2020 executive orders will expire on March 31, 2021 anyway. At Ashoori Law, we will continue to monitor the situation with those 2020 executive orders.
My name is Michael Ashoori and I'm a U.S. immigration lawyer and the founder of Ashoori Law. As an immigration lawyer, I help families, professionals, investors, and entrepreneurs get visas, green cards, and citizenship to the United States. If you have any questions, feel free to request a free consultation by clicking this link.
Share this post...
Michael Ashoori, Esq.
U.S. Immigration Lawyer
I’m a U.S. immigration lawyer and I help families, professionals, investors, and entrepreneurs get visas, green cards, and citizenship to the United States.
Since starting my law firm, I’ve helped hundreds of people from all over the world with their immigration needs. I’m very passionate, hard-working, and committed to my clients.
Got a question? Send me an email.