Biden Administration’s New Executive Orders on Immigration
On February 2, 2021, President Biden signed three executive orders on immigration, further crystalizing his agenda for the next four years.
The first executive order officially creates a task force that will seek to reunite families that were separated at the border during the previous administration, specifically revoking former President Trump’s executive order that established the child separation policy. The task force’s main duties include working nationwide to find parents and children who were separated at the border, recommending to the President and federal agencies measures that can be taken to reunify families, and suggesting steps to prevent family separation in the future.
The second order addresses implementing a plan for safe and lawful migration. The order calls for the study and investigation of the underlying issues that currently drive migrants from their homes, particularly migrants from Central America, and for proposing solutions to mitigate some of those issues. The Biden Administration also plans to ensure that Central American refugees and asylum seekers have access to legal avenues for relief in the United States and calls for a review of former President Trump’s policy of forcing immigrants to remain in Mexico while awaiting a court hearing in the United States.
A final of the new executive orders demands a “top-to-bottom review” of current immigration policies. It specifically instructs agencies to review the “public charge” rule – which permits the U.S. government to deny admission to an immigrant if it believes that individual is likely to accept certain public benefits – as well as related items. The order further directs agencies to conduct complete and thorough reviews of recent regulations, policies, and guidance that have created barriers to legal immigration in the United States.
Hundreds Deported in Early Days of Biden Administration
Despite President Biden’s promise of a moratorium on deportations during his first few months in office, hundreds of individuals have been deported from the U.S. to at least three countries: Jamaica, Guatemala, and Honduras; and additional deportation flights are still scheduled for later this month.
On his first day in office, President Biden signed an executive order pausing deportations for 100 days. However, last week, a U.S. District Judge for the Southern District of Texas granted a temporary restraining order to stop enforcement of President Biden’s order. On Friday, January 29, 2021, the court extended the temporary restraining order until February 23, 2021. The Justice Department has not yet sought to block the order.
TPS for Syrians Extended for 18 Months
On January 29, 2021, Acting Secretary for the Department of Homeland Security David Pekoske extended the current Temporary Protected Status designation for Syrians until September 2022. The devastation and shortages of basic necessities caused by the ongoing civil war have caused a spike in refugees and internally displaced persons coming from Syria.
This extension allows Syrians or stateless individuals who last resided in Syria to seek TPS designation even if they entered the U.S. after August 1, 2016 – the last time TPS was designated for Syrians. Accordingly, Syrian nationals or residents in the United States who have not yet registered for TPS should consult with an immigration attorney promptly in order to determine if they are eligible for protection from removal.
The U.S. government will determine next year whether further extension of the TPS designation is warranted.