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Biden Administration Reverses Course on Key Trump Immigration Policies

5 Feb

On Tuesday February 2, 2021, President Biden signed three executive orders rescinding previous policies that were implemented under the Trump administration.  The new executive orders aim to reunify families separated by President Trump’s border enforcement policies, while establishing a more welcoming tone in America’s immigration policy and seeking solutions for the root causes of mass regional migration. 

Executive Order on the Establishment of Interagency Task Force on the Reunification of Families | The White House  

In the executive order establishing an Interagency Task Force on the Reunification of Families, President Biden indicates his administration’s commitment to reunite children and families separated by border policies enacted by the Trump Administration. The task force will work to identify all children who were separated and facilitate reunifications when possible. President Biden further states that his administration will commit to “protect family unity and ensure that children entering the United States are not separated from their families, except in the most extreme circumstances where a separation is clearly necessary for the safety and well-being of the child or is required by law.” 

Executive Order on Restoring Faith in Our Legal Immigration Systems and Strengthening Integration and Inclusion Efforts for New Americans 

In the Restoring Faith in Legal Immigration and Inclusion Efforts executive order, the Biden administration recognizes the importance of immigrant persons and families in America’s history, culture, and economy. President Biden states that the laws and policies implemented by the U.S. should “encourage full participation by immigrants, including refugees, in our civic life; that immigration processes and other benefits are delivered effectively and efficiently; and that the Federal Government eliminates sources of fear and other barriers that prevent immigrants from accessing government services available to them.”  

In this executive order, President Biden instructs the White House Domestic Policy Council to coordinate the welcoming and supporting of immigrants to push its inclusion efforts through policies that will impact immigrant communities. These policies will be determined by the joint effort of the Secretary of State, Attorney General, and Secretary of Homeland Security to identify barriers limiting access to immigration benefits. 

The executive order also calls for a comprehensive plan within 60 days from the order, which will eliminate barries to naturalization to U.S. citizenship.  Such a plan might include suggestions for changes to the N-400 application, fingerprinting, background and security checks, interviews, civics and English language tests, the oath of allegiance, processing times, and reduction of fees with an updated fee waiver process.  

Executive Order Creating a Comprehensive Regional Framework to Address the Causes of Migration 

In the Executive Order Creating a Comprehensive Regional Framework to Address the Causes of Migration, President Biden sets forth a “Collaborative Management Strategy that commits his administration to work closely with countries in Central and North America to build and expand the interconnecting asylum systems.  He also articulates a “Root Causes Strategy” focused on identifying and tackling the underlying causes of mass regional migration. 

Pursuant to the executive order the Department of Homeland Security will review current asylum processes and Migrant protection Protocols, a Trump-era program that requires asylum seekers along the U.S.-Mexico border to remain in Mexico while their asylum claim is processed. The Department will work to reinstate orderly processing procedures for receiving migrants and asylum seekers in accordance with applicable laws. The executive order also instructs the Attorney General and Secretary of Homeland Security to evaluate the asylum processes for individuals claiming asylum due to domestic or gang violence and persons who are considered a member of a “particular social group” fleeing persecution to ensure that protection is provided “in a manner consistent with international standards.”  

Foster will continue to monitor developments in connection with the new administration’s immigration policies and will make future updates available on our firm’s website at