President Joe Biden continues to move steadily, but carefully, addressing several of the most contentious immigration issues remaining from the Trump administration. The president is reversing dozens of actions intended to deport immigrants and close the country to those seeking work. On Feb. 2, Biden signed three new executive orders seeking to:
- Reunite migrant children separated from their families
- Restore education and employment opportunities for international students and workers
- Rebuild the nation’s asylum system
Senate confirms new homeland security secretary
On the same day the president signed those orders, the Senate confirmed Alejandro N. Mayorkas as the first immigrant and Latino to hold the office of Secretary of Homeland Security. The position had been vacant for nearly two years under Trump.
The new administration has been criticized by Democrats, many of whom believe he must take bolder action to undo policies put in place under Trump, and Conservatives, some charging that abandoning these policies will cost Americans jobs and undermine border security. Immigration advocates believe efforts to end Trump-era directives will move faster with Mayorkas in place.
Executive orders are limited in many cases
Experts say Biden’s actions will not immediately dismantle Trump immigration policies but instead direct the government to review guidance that:
- Slowed down legal immigration
- Made it more challenging for immigrants to get green cards or become citizens
- Limited asylum opportunities
One of the president’s orders also establishes a task force, led by Secretary Mayorkas, to identify and reunite families separated at the border.