Biden Expands Quick Bid to Undo Trump’s Immigration Policies

SAN DIEGO (AP) -
Facing off with a protestor, then presidential hopeful Joe Biden outside a town hall at Lander University in Greenwood, S.C..  (AP Photo/Meg Kinnard, File)

The Biden administration on Tuesday announced steps to address harm to thousands of families separated at the U.S.-Mexico border, expanding efforts to quickly undo relentless changes to immigration policy over the last four years.

President Joe Biden planned to sign orders on family separation, border security and legal immigration, bringing to nine the number of executive actions on immigration during his first two weeks in office. Details were thin, but the moves aim to reverse many of former President Donald Trump’s policies to deter immigration, both legal and illegal.

Alejandro Mayorkas, whose nomination as Homeland Security secretary awaits Senate confirmation, will lead a task force on family separation, focused largely on reuniting parents and children who remain apart. It is unclear how many, but about 5,500 children have been identified in court documents as having been separated during Trump’s presidency, including about 600 whose parents have yet to be found by a court-appointed committee.

“The task force will report regularly to the President and recommend steps to prevent such tragedies from occurring again,” the Biden administration said in a statement.

The review of border security includes a policy to make asylum-seekers wait in Mexican border cities for hearings in U.S. immigration court. It is a step toward fulfilling a campaign pledge to end the Remain in Mexico policy, known officially as Migrant Protection Protocols, which enrolled nearly 70,000 asylum-seekers since it began in January 2019.

The White House said it will “create a humane asylum system” by rescinding or reconsidering Trump policies that caused “chaos, cruelty and confusion.” It warned that it will take time, which may cause grumbling among some pro-immigration advocates.

“The situation at the border will not transform overnight, due in large part to the damage done over the last four years.” the White House said in a statement. “But the President is committed to an approach that keeps our country safe, strong, and prosperous and that also aligns with our values.”