February 5, 2021
On Tuesday, February 2, 2021, President Joe Biden signed three new executive orders to roll back Trump-era regulations restricting legal immigration and to reunite families separated at the U.S.-Mexico border. These new orders are in addition to an executive order signed on January 20, 2021, Biden’s first day, that reversed the Muslim Travel Ban that targeted citizens from African and Muslim-majority countries.
The long-awaited executive orders will enforce a complete review of recent immigration policies, establish a government task force to reunite the more than 5,000 families separated at the border, review recent regulations limiting asylum, and create a more streamlined naturalization system.
IMAGE: BILL WECHTER/GETTY IMAGES
Furthermore, the President directed an immediate review of the Trump Administration’s new public charge regulations, which have caused a chilling effect in immigrant and refugee families across the country. The public charge rule provides grounds of inadmissibility to the U.S. for immigrants who are likely to use public benefits, particularly food stamps, housing benefits, or Medicaid. Although the public charge rule has yet to be rescinded or eliminated, by ordering this review, the administrative process of reversing the public charge regulations has now begun. Our partners anticipate that federal agencies will soon take action leading to reversal of the regulations.
Since the new public charge rule was first proposed in 2019, AAFSC has been working diligently with our partners to dispel myths, share resources, and ensure immigrant and refugee families know their rights and remain together. Through our outreach events and Know Your Rights workshops, we reached and educated hundreds of New Yorkers across all five boroughs. Our Legal Services program has also been available five days a week to support families with questions about public charge, help them create action plans, and provide legal guidance as needed.
AAFSC commends the Biden Administration for working quickly and delivering on promises to create a safer, more equitable future for immigrants and refugees in the U.S. Although this is a huge victory for immigrant families, there is still a long road ahead. AAFSC is monitoring the situation and will share updates as they come in. We look forward to working closely with our partners to ensure our communities are informed, safe, and protected.