Within hours of his inauguration, President Joe Biden signed several executive orders and introduced legislation to overhaul the nation’s immigration system.
Biden moved to end President Trump’s ban on immigration from nations predominantly Muslim, and provide a path to citizenship for immigrants brought to the U.S. as children under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program.
Accountability sought for child separation policy
During a Jan. 8 news conference, Biden promised the Justice Department, under the direction of his attorney general-designee Merrick Garland, will conduct a thorough investigation over the Trump administration’s family separation program.
The policy led to more than 2,600 children being taken from their parents and caregivers after crossing the southern U.S. border, with many still not reunited. Biden says the investigation will seek to determine who was responsible for the policy and whether their actions were criminal.
Change will not happen overnight
The president says his administration would not be able to immediately undo all of Trump’s changes to U.S. immigration policy. While officials said deportations could be suspended within a reasonable period, other actions will take time to implement.
Biden domestic policy chief Susan Rice said the administration is committed to addressing the damage done to the system over the past four years. However, she says it will take time to relax border restrictions for asylum-seekers and for their claims to be processed once again.
Biden offers hope for DACA participants
Despite the challenges ahead, Biden says his immigration reform bill to Congress will contain a path to citizenship for more than 11 million undocumented immigrants under the Obama-era DACA program.