On Tuesday (2/2) President Biden signed three new executive orders on immigration. These three EOs are in addition to the six executive orders, two DHS memos, and the sweeping legislative proposal announced on day one. These policies are a step towards unwinding the cruelty and chaos of the Trump administration in order to build a fair, humane, and functional asylum and immigration system.
Below are a compilation of statements, press releases, and comments from immigration advocates in response to the news:
Omar Jadwat, director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project:
We commend the steps the Biden administration has taken so far to begin the process of rebuilding our asylum system. But it is troubling that today’s orders did not include immediate action to rescind and unwind more of the unlawful and inhumane policies that this administration inherited — and now owns. The government must move quickly and boldly to make these necessary changes, which are urgently needed because so many people are suffering right now.
ACLU attorney Lee Gelernt, lead lawyer in the family separation lawsuit:
The task force has a broad mandate and we are pleased to see the Biden administration’s commitment to reuniting families in the United States, protecting them from deportation, and care. However, all 5,500-plus separated families need immediate action — they cannot wait 120 days for a task force to make recommendations. These families deserve citizenship, care, and resources. We hope the task force acts with urgency, and look forward to working with it to reunite families and ensure that this never happens again.
Today President Biden signed executive orders that initiate a review process for certain Trump-era anti-immigrant policies, and create a task force focused on reuniting families.
— ACLU (@ACLU) February 3, 2021
AILA President Jennifer Minear:
It is heartening to see steps being taken to undo the so-called ‘Migrant Protection Protocols’ (MPP) which kept tens of thousands of asylum seekers trapped in Mexico rather than allowing them a meaningful chance to claim asylum as our laws require. President Biden is also seeking to address the root causes forcing people to flee their homes in Central America, bolster asylum protections in the region generally, and restore a program that allowed for certain children in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras to apply in-country to safely reunite with family in the United States rather than braving a dangerous journey to the U.S. border. Unwinding the harmful policies of the past will take time, but people who need immediate humanitarian protection cannot be kept waiting any longer while their lives hang in the balance.
AILA welcomed actions taken by the Biden administration that will move our immigration and asylum policies toward fairness and justice, however leaders cautioned that much more needs to be done. https://t.co/lcVw2eKERg
— AILA (@AILANational) February 3, 2021
Angelica Salas, CHIRLA executive director:
With these orders, President Biden used his executive power to give immigrants something they haven’t had in a long time: protection. The previous administration put targets on the backs of immigrants for four years, attacking them in big and little ways, without regard to their contributions, specific need, or even legal status. All immigrants, with and without papers, were fair game.
Rick Santos, President and CEO of Church World Service:
Step by step the Biden administration is returning the United States to its role as a nation of welcome. Seeking asylum is legal, granting asylum is moral, it’s time these facts are reflected by our immigration policy. No family should be separated, now or in the future, because of misguided policies. These executive actions are an important first step—but the administration cannot stop here. The United States should make it our priority to fully strengthen family immigration and further address the causes of forced migration immediately.
Today, @POTUS signed executive actions:
➡establishing a family reunification taskforce
➡addressing barriers to legal immigration
➡confronting root causes of regional migration
— CWS (@CWS_global) February 3, 2021
Paola Luisi, Director of Families Belong Together:
We are encouraged to see the Biden-Harris administration taking urgent steps to reunite the hundreds of families still separated as a result of Trump’s cruel policies. This taskforce is a testament to the powerful efforts of brave families who have spoken out about their experiences within our immigration system and all the advocates fighting for justice across the country.
The trauma suffered by these families is immeasurable, and reunification is just the first step on a long road to healing. That road to healing includes holding those behind these sadistic policies accountable. We look forward to working with the task force to ensure we live by our values, do right by those who have been wronged, and work to overhaul our immigration system so it centers dignity, care and compassion.
We are encouraged to see the Biden-Harris administration taking urgent steps to reunite the hundreds of families still separated as a result of Trump’s cruel policies. [THREAD] https://t.co/c7YBUd7tyU
— Families Belong Together (@fams2gether) February 3, 2021
FWD.us Vice President for Advocacy Alida Garcia issued the following statement:
Ending our nation’s cruel immigration practices, including many of the policies upon which family separation and family detention have been predicated, will not only keep families together, but it will also allow immigrants to contribute more fully to their communities as our country continues to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. These efforts cannot happen in a vacuum, or merely at the executive level. They must be coupled with substantial action from Congress to reform the immigration system, centered on providing a pathway to citizenship for the undocumented community, including the millions of frontline, essential workers who have helped our communities survive the ongoing pandemic. It is long past time to create the modern, compassionate and humane immigration system that our nation needs to rebuild from this public health and economic crisis.
New Statement from https://t.co/BrUfJRF9cc VP for Advocacy @leedsgarcia on the latest Biden-Harris Administration’s Executive Actions on border, asylum, refugee processes, legal immigration and establishing a task force to reunify families https://t.co/HnX9KJeYoN pic.twitter.com/GF2Mek5icX
— FWD.us (@FWDus) February 2, 2021
Eleanor Acer, senior director for refugee protection at Human Rights First:
President Biden’s executive orders are important initial steps toward undoing the chaos and illegality of the last four years. The reviews directed by today’s orders should be conducted with great urgency. Every day that these illegal policies are left in place, people seeking this country’s protection continue to suffer kidnappings, attacks, and family separations. The administration must end the violations of our refugee laws and treaties.
Tonight, we welcome President Biden’s executive orders & announcement of steps toward restoring U.S. leadership in protecting people seeking refuge in the U.S.
But urgent action is still needed to bring vulnerable people to safety in the U.S.
— Human Rights First (@humanrights1st) February 3, 2021
Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center and the NILC Immigrant Justice Fund, issued the following statement:
In his first days in office, President Biden has sent a clear signal that his administration sees immigrants as a strength to this country. The National Immigration Law Center celebrates the Biden administration’s policies that recognize the dignity of immigrants and their essential role in our communities. We applaud the president for moving quickly to begin undoing harms done by the previous administration while putting us on a path to a more immigrant-inclusive vision for America.
The Biden administration must continue to do everything in their power to minimize the damage of this harmful policy. This is even more crucial given the pandemic—our collective health & well-being depends on all of us being healthy. 4/4
— National Immigration Law Center (@NILC) February 3, 2021
RAICES release the following statement:
The Biden-Harris administration is saying the right words and expressing its intent to move in the right direction — but the fact is they don’t go far enough. Together, it now owns the policies that see 60 Black immigrants being deported tomorrow. They are directly responsible for what happens to the 5,000 children currently held in immigrant detention, and the thousands of people stuck in Mexico because of the Remain in Mexico policy. This administration campaigned on a promise to take immediate action to undo the policies put in place by its predecessor, and to stop the pain that’s been intentionally inflicted on our community. It must keep its promise.
Here's our official @RAICESTEXAS statement regarding the executive orders from President Biden announced today, including the taskforce to reunite families separated under zero tolerance policy. pic.twitter.com/wEBZoxa2fN
— Erika Andiola (@ErikaAndiola) February 3, 2021
John Slocum, RCUSA Interim Executive Director, stated:
Today’s executive orders signal that the Biden administration is making the task of restoring protection and welcome a priority. We applaud the president’s actions, including the call for family reunification, restoring the Central American Minors (CAM) program to protect children from Central America fleeing violence, and re-establishing the Task Force on New Americans to facilitate immigrant integration. We know, too, that ensuring a safe and accessible path to protection is only part of the work to be done. This administration must equally dedicate itself to addressing the root causes of displacement, for every person deserves to find safety in their communities.
— Refugee Council USA (@RCUSA_DC) February 2, 2021