President Joe Biden used his first day in office to reverse multiple immigration policies that formed the cornerstone of his predecessor's time in the White House, including the 2017 travel ban on people from several predominantly Muslim countries.
Out of the 17 orders, memorandums and proclamations revealed on Wednesday, six dealt with immigration — mostly an attempt to undo some controversial Trump-era policies.
Biden signed an executive order ending the travel ban on citizens from more than a dozen countries, including Eritrea, Yemen, Nigeria and Sudan. The bar was imposed by former President Donald Trump when he first entered office. Criticized as a "Muslim ban" when it was first revealed, it went on to eventually include some non majority-Muslim nations.
The incoming president had referred to the policy as discriminatory.
The move to repeal the ban has been hailed by several civil rights organization, including the American Civil Liberties Union, which called the policy a "cruel Muslim ban that targeted Africans."
Biden has also ordered that the construction of a border wall near Mexico be halted, a move that was welcomed by the neighboring country. The wall was one of Trump’s pet projects during his 2016 presidential campaign.
Other major immigration orders passed by the incoming president include reversing plans to exclude people who are in the country illegally from the 2020 census, and preserving Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). This program has shielded hundreds of thousands of people who came to the country as children from deportation.
However, the most ambitious immigration reform to be undertaken by Biden will be a bill that gives legal status and provides a path to citizenship to anyone in the country before January 1. It comes to an estimated 11 million people. The bill also aims to reduce the time that family members must wait outside the US for green cards.
see/rc (Reuters, AP, dpa)