President Trump and his advisors used their power to stop people from majority Muslim and other disfavored countries from entering the US, and to get rid of people from those and other countries who already lived here. Trump’s “travel ban” first prohibited people from six countries from coming here and then was extended to exclude people from another six, including Venezuela. He turned immigration and asylum practices into tools to punish people who sought refuge.
The Trump Administration attempted to purge the United States of people who had lived in this country for years but weren’t born here by deporting hundreds of thousands of people. It didn’t matter if you had lived decades in the country. He ruined lives and disrupted communities.
Trump tried hard to end DACA, the program allowing people who had been brought to the US as young children by their parents to remain in the country without fear of persecution. His repeated efforts to curtail and eliminate the program were hampered by court rulings, but they represented a sword hanging over the head of thousands.
Trump even tried to turn the US Census from a Constitutionally required report of how many people live in the United States into a report of how many of the people in the US have citizenship. The Administration hoped that excluding non-citizens would mean that Democratic majority states like California might lose Congressional seats.
All that changed on January 21, with a stroke of President Biden’s pen:
Policy change: President Biden signed a Proclamation revoking the Travel Ban, including the “Expanded Travel Ban” that added four new countries to the list in 2020. It instructs the State Department to restart visa processing for affected countries. It further directs the Secretary of State to, within 45 days, provide a plan to expeditiously adjudicate pending travel ban waivers, and to provide a proposal for how individuals whose immigrant visa applications had previously been rejected under the Travel Ban could have their applications reconsidered.
Preserving and Fortifying Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)
Policy change: President Biden signed a Presidential Memorandum directing the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Attorney General, to take all appropriate actions under the law to preserve and fortify DACA.
Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) for Liberians
Policy change: President Biden signed a Presidential Memorandum to extend DED for Liberians until June 30, 2022, including extension of work authorization, and directed DHS to ensure that USCIS facilitates ease of application and timely adjudication for Liberians applying for residency under the Liberian Refugee Immigration Fairness (LRIF) Act.
Department of Homeland Security Statement on Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP)
DHS issued a brief statement indicating that as of January 21, 2021:
- No new MPP cases will be started
- People who are already in MPP should wait for further information from the US government
- COVID-19 travel restrictions at the border are still in place, including Title 42, under which migrants may be immediately expelled from the border.
Executive Order on the Revision of Civil Immigration Enforcement Policies and Priorities
Policy change: President Biden signed an Executive Order revoking Trump Executive Order that directed harsh and extreme immigration enforcement policies, and calling for revised enforcement priorities.
Department of Homeland Security Memorandum Pausing Certain Deportations for 100 Days
- DHS issued a memorandum calling for a 100-day pause on certain removals pending a comprehensive review of enforcement and removal policies.
- Certain individuals are excluded from the deportation moratorium, including individuals engaged in or suspected of terrorism, individuals with an “aggravated felony,” and individuals attempting to cross the border after January 20.
- The memo rescinds several enforcement policies of the prior Administration, including several broad memoranda issued in 2017 that implemented that Administration’s hardline approach. It also rescinds the June 28, 2018 USCIS Guidance on Issuing NTAs, and indicates that USCIS should revert to preexisting guidance issued by USCIS regarding NTAs on November 7, 2011.