President Joe Biden on Wednesday will begin reversing Donald Trump’s immigration policies, part of an aggressive push to roll back some of the most controversial actions of his predecessor and chart a new course for the nation.
In one of his first acts as president, Biden will sign an executive action ending restrictions on travel and immigration from some predominantly Muslim countries. The measure directs the State Department to resume visa processing for those countries and develop a plan to address people affected, such as those who were denied entry to the U.S.
The action also orders reviews of other “extreme vetting” practices used by the Trump administration, while directing the U.S. to improve information-sharing with foreign governments to bolster screening of travelers.
Biden is also proposing a sweeping immigration bill that would provide a pathway to citizenship for roughly 11 million people living illegally in the U.S. The legislation marks a stark contrast with the Trump administration’s efforts to restrict both legal and illegal immigration during its four years in power.
The new president will issue a proclamation ordering a stop to construction of Trump’s wall along the border with Mexico. It would rescind the national emergency that Trump declared to secure funding for the wall, and eventually redirect the money to other projects.
The travel ban and border wall were the fulfillments of Trump’s central 2016 campaign promises, to crack down on immigration and limit the number of Muslims coming to the U.S. Biden condemned them as an attack on racial and religious minorities and pledged to voters that one of his first acts as president would be to eliminate the ban and stop work on the wall.
Just one week after taking office, Trump announced he would suspend entry to travelers from seven mostly Muslim nations: Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Somalia and Sudan. The policy also suspended refugee resettlement. Federal judges blocked the first version of the ban from being implemented. A third version went into place following numerous court challenges.
The ban that Biden ended blocked entry to most people from Iran, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Somalia and North Korea. It also restricted immigrant visas for people from Nigeria, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar and Eritrea as well as for certain others from Venezuela and Tanzania.
Biden’s immigration legislation is ambitious, and as a result, it could face obstacles in Congress.
The proposal calls for an eight-year path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, down from 13, and an even shorter one for those known as Dreamers who were brought illegally as children to the U.S., as well as those with temporary protected status.