Today’s edition of Noorani’s Notes pulls together the various Day One immigration actions by President Biden. Subscribe to this daily newsletter here.
Let’s jump into it….
Immigration was a large part of President Biden’s first hours in office. We’ll get to that below.
First, some important new data from our friends at the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI). They released a new report today, “Immigration After Trump: What Would Immigration Policy That Followed American Public Opinion Look Like?” Key takeaways: There’s strong support for a path to citizenship for the undocumented and clear opposition to a host of hardline Trump policies.
“The new immigration priorities and policies favored by the Biden administration will bring U.S. policy more in line with long-standing American public opinion, which has consistently reflected a more compassionate and pragmatic approach to these complex issues,” says Robert P. Jones, PRRI’s founder and CEO.
Now, on to the new administration’s six immigration-related executive orders, plus a Homeland Security memo and a legislative package (which, notably, has been welcomed by the George W. Bush Institute).
ENDED — President Biden took swift action to end Trump’s Muslim travel ban, Joel Rose reports for NPR. Elizabeth Neumann, senior advisor to the Forum on national security matters and author of a new report on the impact of the ban, told Rose: “These bans damaged our nation’s reputation. They were an unnecessary distraction from the actual security enhancements that were needed.” Hear more from Elizabeth, including her recommendations for a smarter approach to national security, on our latest episode of Only in America.
REINSTATED — In March of 2019, the Trump administration ended Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) for Liberians. President Biden reinstated the program on day one for this community. The move provides some stability for some 4,000 Liberian DED recipients until June 2022, Nicole Narea at Vox notes.
SUSPENDED — Last night the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) suspended new enrollments in the Trump administration’s Migrant Protection Protocols program, also known as “Remain in Mexico.” This keeps migrants currently waiting at the border in limbo pending further developments, but keep in mind that such limbo is nothing new for them: Many have already been waiting for months or longer. Watch for more to come on this in the week ahead (and for a deeper dive into this policy, check out our Only in America explainer episode).
PRESERVED — As a court case continues to wind its way through the judicial system, the lives of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients remain in flux. Biden’s executive order “preserving and fortifying” the program is a welcome step forward — and critically, as Aishvarya Kavi points out in The New York Times, it also “calls on Congress to enact legislation providing permanent status and a path to citizenship for those immigrants.”
COUNTED — One of the final immigration-related pushes by the Trump administration was to exclude undocumented immigrants from the 2020 census apportionment count. President Biden issued a detailed order directing the Census Bureau to include all persons living in the U.S., noting that “[a]t no point since our Nation’s Founding has a person’s immigration status alone served as a basis for excluding that person from the total population count used in apportionment.” NPR’s Hansi Lo Wang reports that the order did not address the standing directives from former Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross “to generate anonymized, block-level data about the U.S. citizenship status of every adult living in the country. It is not clear what will happen to the records the bureau has compiled and any data it has produced.”
PRIORITIZED — In order to utilize valuable immigration enforcement resources, Biden issued an executive order to “reset the policies and practices for enforcing civil immigration laws” in order to “protect national and border security, address the humanitarian challenges at the southern border, and ensure public health and safety.” To begin this process, DHS Acting Secretary David Pekoske issued a memorandum directing U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to review their enforcement priorities. The memo also “sets interim policies during the course of that review, including a 100-day pause on certain removals to enable focusing the Department’s resources where they are most needed.”
HALTED — Calling Trump’s border wall “not a serious policy solution,” President Biden halted all new construction of the wall along the US-Mexico border. Ricardo Solis, president of Laredo College — whose campus is set to be dissected by border wall construction — told Border Report’s Sandra Sanchez that the halt in construction “is quite significant and comes as a relief to Laredo College and our community.” More perspectives from the border: In an op-ed for the San Antonio Express-News, Dennis. E. Nixon, chairman and CEO of IBC Bank in Laredo and Woody L. Hunt, senior chairman of Hunt Cos. Inc. in El Paso lay out four border policy measures they believe the Biden administration should take.
PROPOSED — President Biden is reshaping the immigration debate in Congress with his legislative proposal to reform the nation’s immigration system. Vox’s Nicole Narea digs deep into the details, writing that the proposed legislation “marks both a symbolic and substantive break with the restrictionist immigration policies that have defined the last four years.” The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent lays out the political strategy ahead, pointing out that a number of Republicans are already on board with some of the proposals, particularly the one that would provide a path to legal status for Dreamers: “Some GOP senators who just won re-election, such as John Cornyn of Texas and Thom Tillis of North Carolina, did so while advocating for this, and others, such as Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and James Lankford of Oklahoma, have also backed the idea.”