Here Are The Immigration Actions President Biden Plans To Sign

Feb 2, 2021
Originally published on February 5, 2021 2:14 pm

NOEL KING, HOST:

President Biden will sign a series of executive actions today. They take aim at his predecessor Donald Trump's harshest immigration policies, like the one that separated children from their families at the border. NPR White House correspondent Franco Ordoñez is following this story. Good morning, Franco.

FRANCO ORDOÑEZ, BYLINE: Good morning, Noel.

KING: So as expected, given the outrage that policy caused, one of the actions today will involve child separation. What is it?

ORDOÑEZ: Well, what they're going to do is they're going to create a task force to kind of help find the children that have missing. And this task force will work across agencies and interest groups to help track down the missing parents of, frankly, hundreds of children. The task force will then work on the best way to reunite the kids with their parents.

KING: There has been uncertainty, though, Franco, as I understand it, about parents who were deported without their children. Are they expecting to have problems actually reuniting some of these families?

ORDOÑEZ: You know, it's a challenging job because the records aren't all there. And officials don't even know exactly how many kids there are or who all of their parents are. And there's been a lot of questions about whether the Biden administration will help bring parents back to the United States, which the Trump administration, by the way, would not do. A senior administration official did tell me last night that reuniting in the United States was one of the options, but that that was going to be a decision that the task force would make.

KING: OK. That's interesting. Joe Biden did make a lot of promises on the campaign trail around immigration. What else are you expecting today?

ORDOÑEZ: One thing we're hearing is that Biden will call for a top to bottom review of Trump's changes to legal immigration. That includes a review of Trump's public charge rule, which prevented immigrants from getting permanent residence or green cards if they were likely to require public benefits. He's also expected to take a close look at border policies. That includes ending requirements that migrants seeking asylum in the United States be forced to wait in Mexico or another third country in Central America. That doesn't necessarily mean, though, that those waiting in Mexico now can come back. A senior administration official said they are going to implement a new system to process asylum cases. But that is going to take some time.

KING: Immigration advocates, despite all of this, have said they're not convinced that this is enough of a priority for Biden. What's their complaint?

ORDOÑEZ: Yeah. There is a lot of concerns that the Biden team won't fulfill its promises on this issue. These activists, frankly, want Biden to do much more to counter all the different things that Trump did to make life increasingly more difficult for the 11 million undocumented people living in the country. Now, obviously, there are a lot of pressing issues right now, COVID-19, climate change, racial equity. And the activists have told me and others they want to make sure that immigration is not lost in the shuffle.

KING: Is there something on immigration that Joe Biden would like to get done that he simply cannot do with an executive action?

ORDOÑEZ: Yeah. As we're learning, you know, the one challenge with executive actions is they can be undone by the next administration. To enact lasting change, you know, Biden's pushing for ambitious immigration legislation that Congress would have to pass. And this proposal that he introduced on Day 1 - or, you know, sent to Congress on Day 1 would put millions of undocumented immigrants on a path to citizenship. But a lot of conservatives are already saying no.

KING: OK. NPR's Franco Ordoñez. Thanks, Franco.

ORDOÑEZ: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.