Biden set to sign executive order to expand U.S. refugee program
President Joe Biden is expected to sign an executive order that would set his goal of admitting tens of thousands more refugees in the United States, according to two administration officials.
Under former President Donald Trump, the US refugee admissions program was largely decimated after years of low arrivals, including a cap of 15,000 during fiscal year 2021 – considerably lower than the country’s historically high admission ceilings.
The refugee cap, which dictates how many refugees can be admitted to the United States, must be approved by the president. But where the cap was often seen as a target, the actual number of admitted refugees has dropped dramatically under the Trump administration.
During the campaign, Biden pledged to increase refugee admissions tenfold, to an annual cap of 125,000. The president is expected to take executive action on immigration as early as Friday, according to a draft schedule. sent to the allies of the administration.
While it is not clear when Biden intends to reach the levels he has committed to, the expected executive order would serve as guiding principles setting a tone of reopening to refugees and establishing a list of required reports to be delivered. between 30 and 120 days, according to an internal security official.
White House officials have made it clear their intention to step up the program. Over the weekend, Esther Olavarria, deputy director of the Home Immigration Policy Council, said that Biden’s next executive actions “would restore the refugee admissions program and allow the United States to resume its role. leadership and refugee protection history “.
Friday too marks two years of a Trump-era policy that required non-Mexican asylum-seeking migrants to wait in Mexico until their court date in the United States. The orders build on steps already taken in Biden’s early hours as president and cement the administration’s vision for migration and border processing.
The White House declined to comment on Biden’s plans.
At the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ winter meeting on Saturday, Olavarria said one of the upcoming executive orders focuses on the border and the region as a whole by providing funding to tackle root causes of migration. Biden goes has also put in place programs to protect people closer to home by strengthening asylum systems in neighboring countries, establishing a U.S. refugee admission program for migrants in the region, and relaunching the Central American juvenile program that had been abolished by Trump and allows some at-risk youth to live in the United States.
And at the southern border of the United States, the administration intends to establish a “fair but effective asylum program” that includes the end of the so-called “stay in Mexico” program, which forces migrants to stay. in Mexico while their immigration cases are in the United States. , as well as third-country agreements with Central American countries that were put in place under the Trump administration.
The Department of Homeland Security ended new registrations for the “stay in Mexico” program last week, but has not addressed what is happening to those who have already been subjected to the policy.
“Public charge” rule
Olavarria also cited executive action that would repeal Trump’s proclamations that largely banned the admission of low-income immigrants, such as the public office rule that makes it harder for immigrants to obtain legal status s ‘they use public benefits such as Medicaid, housing voucher food stamps.
“These are policies that have ignored the decades – and centuries in fact – of contributions that immigrants have made to our economy, to our society, to our culture. We would repeal these policies and return to a country that welcomes immigrants and recognizes their contributions, ”she said.
The administration’s approach to immigration stands in stark contrast to the Trump administration which has sought to restrict immigration to the United States. In 2019, Ken Cuccinelli, Acting Director of Citizenship and Immigration Services in the United States, in a new interview revised the iconic poem on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty to suggest that only immigrants who can “fend for themselves” are welcome in the United States.
Family separation and “zero tolerance”
Biden is also expected to sign an executive order establishing a task force that would focus on reuniting separated families on the US-Mexico border under Trump’s controversial “zero tolerance” policy that ended in June 2018. Tuesday, the Department of Justice officially canceled the 2018 memo.
“In keeping with this long-standing principle of performing individualized assessments in criminal cases, I am rescinding – with immediate effect – the policy direction,” Acting Attorney General Monty Wilkinson said. said in a note to federal prosecutors.
Despite the flurry of announcements and actions, White House officials recognize the limits of executive power.
“The president has a lot of authority to fix the immigration system in different ways,” Tyler Moran, special assistant to the president on immigration for the Home Policy Council, told mayors on Saturday. “But what the president really can’t do is provide people with permanent status and we’ve been doing so much shopping about it, but we really have to do that to make sure people are on their way to the end. citizenship.”
The immigration bill Biden sent to Congress is a priority, although a White House official admitted “it’s not an all-or-nothing process.” Leaders from both chambers and both parties are expected to work together on a package, and final legislation could be different.