ImmigrationJoe Biden to Pause Border Wall Construction, Issue Protections for DACA Recipients, Roll Back Other Trump Immigration Policies

By Julián Aguilar

Published 20 January 2021

On the same afternoon he’s sworn in as the nation’s 46th president, Joe Biden will take multiple executive actions that will undo several of former President Trump’s immigration policies, his transition team announced Wednesday. The incoming president also plans to send a comprehensive immigration reform plan to Congress after he takes office.

On the same afternoon he’s sworn in as the nation’s 46th president, Joe Biden will take multiple executive actions that will undo several of former President Trump’s immigration policies, his transition team announced Wednesday.

The list of orders includes reissuing protections established under the 2012 Deferred Acton for Childhood Arrivals program, halting further construction of a border barrier and rolling back interior immigration enforcement priorities put in place by the previous administration.

The actions come the same day Biden will reportedly send to Congress a comprehensive immigration bill that, if passed, could provide a legal path to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants, including more than a 1.7 million in Texas.

“These actions are bold, begin the work of following through on President-elect Biden’s promises to the American people, and, importantly, fall within the constitutional role for the president,” the transition team said of the executive orders, which also include actions addressing the COVID-19 pandemic, eviction moratoriums, student loan debt and the environment.

The day-one order on DACA will instruct the homeland security secretary and attorney general to preserve the program, which as of June included about 645,000 beneficiaries, including about 106,400 in Texas, according to federal government statistics. Trump announced an end to DACA in 2017, but the program has endured after series of court challenges, including a 2020 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court that ruled the administration did not act properly in its order to end the policy.

But the Biden administration will also face a lawsuit from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who filed a separate challenge that questions the legality of the program.

A separate Biden executive action seeks to roll back Trump’s interior enforcement initiatives and allow federal immigration agencies to “to set civil immigration enforcement policies.” In 2017, Trump quickly ended the Obama-era Priority Enforcement Program, which instructed federal, state and local agencies to focus their limited resources on the biggest threats to public safety, such as convicted or wanted felons and repeat offenders. The Biden transition team generally described Wednesday’s order as a way to return to “policies that best protect the American people and are in line with our values and priorities.”

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