President Biden on Tuesday will sign three executive orders on illegal and legal immigration — as part of an aggressive push in the early days of his presidency to roll back many of his predecessor’s policies.
One of the orders will create a task force to push forward with the reunification of migrants who were separated from family members at the border during the Trump administration via the “zero tolerance” policy.
That policy stopped the practice of adults being admitted to the U.S. when claiming asylum if they were accompanying a child. Due to court orders preventing minors being held in detention for more than a few weeks, it meant that children were placed in care or transferred to relatives in the U.S., while parents or guardians were deported.
The Trump administration eventually reversed the policy amid a backlash, and migrant activists have been calling for those who were removed to be allowed back in to be reunited and even given green cards as compensation.
A senior administration official told reporters that the task force recommendations would take into account “the menu of options that exist under immigration, the appropriate issuance of visas or other immigration benefits.”
The new task force will work to find those who were separated, and make recommendations to Biden and other agencies regarding steps that can be taken.
“It was a moral failure and a national shame that the prior administration used family separation as a weapon against desperate families and children,” a senior administration official said.
Another order will implement a three-part strategy to address “irregular migration” at the southern border. It includes the development of a strategy to tackle the instability and other factors that drive migrants north, and collaboration with other countries.
Most controversial, it also directs the Department of Homeland Security to review the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) which Biden has promised to end. The protocols, known as the Remain-in-Mexico policy, keep migrants south of the border while their immigration hearings are underway rather than admitting them into the homeland.
Critics have called the policy cruel and one that puts migrants in danger. But Trump officials have warned that the policy ends one of the key pull factors for migrants, and ending it could result in chaos and a wave of illegal immigration.
“By ending MPP, the key policy ending catch and release, the Biden administration is taking another significant step reinstating incentives for and loopholes to be exploited by migrants to enter our country illegally,” former acting Customs and Border Protection Commissioner told Fox News in a statement.
“With another stroke of a pen Biden is doubling down on his open border strategies, encouraging illegal migration, and creating the next crisis to reach our borders,” he said. “Within two weeks of this new administration our borders are less secure, our country less safe, and the mission of our front line personnel has become more dangerous.”
The order does not immediately end MPP, but takes the first steps to doing so by ordering a review. Biden had promised to end the program on “day one” but officials had later said it would “take time.” The order also not end Title 42 public health restrictions that have allowed the rapid removal of new illegal immigrants in the wake of the COVID-19 epidemic.
The order also ends a number of asylum policies that the Biden administration claims have closed to the border to asylum seekers.
Finally, on legal immigration, an order will look for a review of Trump-era policies on that form of immigration, and will “streamline” the naturalization process and instruct agencies to review the public charge rule — which limited green cards to immigrants are deemed likely to be reliant on welfare.
“The executive order includes a review of many regulations, orders, guidance, documents and policies that the Trump administration put in place over the last four years,” a senior administration official said. “The review will be conducted by the State Department, the Department of Justice and DHS and assess which policies are inconsistent with the federal government’s desire to promote integration and inclusion and inclusion, citizenship and the full participation of our newest Americans.”
The orders come on top of a slew of orders issued in Biden’s first day in office. Those included ending the construction of the wall at the southern border, strengthening the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy and reversing Trump-era travel restrictions on countries deemed a security risk.
The administration has also issued a 100-day moratorium on deportations, although that is currently subject to a legal challenge. Meanwhile, Biden has proposed a sweeping immigration bill that includes a pathway to citizenship for millions of illegal immigrants.
Fox News’ Griff Jenkins, Matt Leach and Kristina Biddle contributed to this report.