WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden on Feb. 2 announced additional executive orders to improve the country’s immigration system.
The orders create a task force to reunify migrant families separated by the Trump Administration, address the root causes of migration like instability and violence, strengthen the legal immigration system, and require a review of recent regulations including the public charge rule, which would have penalized immigrants who used certain public benefits that they were legally entitled to.
Member of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) issued the following statements:
Rep. Judy Chu (D-Pasadena), CAPAC chair: “As president, Joe Biden promised that he would restore our immigration system to one that served our families and the needs of the country. And I have been thrilled to see the president live up to this promise starting from his first day in office when he took action to protect Dreamers, end the Muslim ban, and send an immigration bill to Congress.
“Now, with these orders, President Biden is taking concrete steps to heal the damage caused by the last administration, starting by reuniting families that were separated by the Trump Administration when they kidnapped children at the border and separated them from their families as a scare tactic to deter immigrants. That hateful policy has caused lasting damage for children and their parents. It is only right that we use every resource possible to try to bring these families back together and begin the healing process.
“As CAPAC chair, I am pleased that the Biden Administration is taking steps to restore faith in our legal immigration system, which has long been a critical priority for the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. Over two-thirds of Asian Americans are immigrants and many have waited decades to reunite with loved ones who are languishing in visa backlogs.
“Unfortunately, the Trump Administration attempted to impose barriers to legal immigration, including suspending the entry of certain immigrants to the United States and implementing a cruel public charge rule. That’s why I am particularly pleased that President Biden is directing agencies to review the public charge rule and rescinding a memorandum that required families to repay the government for relatives who used public benefits.
“I am also thrilled that the Task Force on New Americans will be re-established to help provide resources to immigrants and their families, who so greatly enrich our communities. This is especially important now as we are continuing to struggle with an historic pandemic.
“These executive orders will help more immigrant families get access to healthcare, vaccines and other benefits which makes our communities as a whole safer. We know that immigrants are more likely to serve in front-line jobs, like healthcare, risking their safety for our own. And we know that AAPIs and other communities of color are being disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.
“America has always been made stronger because of the contributions of our immigrants. I am proud to once again have a president who appreciates the value of immigration to America, and is prioritizing humanity and fairness over bigotry and division.”
Rep. Grace Meng (D-N.Y.), CAPAC first vice chair: “America is the nation that it is today because of the contributions made by immigrants. Our country is enriched by the diversity of cultures and backgrounds that have come to define the American story. Today marks a return to the America that welcomes immigrants seeking safety, security and opportunity in our great country.
“I applaud President Biden on his efforts to restore dignity to our immigration system by reuniting families separated by the Trump Administration, ensuring legal access for immigrants fleeing violence, and examining the factors that result in migrants needing to leave their homes.
“I am pleased that the executive order will also review the public charge rule, a callous and cold-hearted regulation I have fought to overturn from the moment it was implemented, which forces families to choose between putting food on the table or keeping their legal status.
“In addition, I’m glad to see attention dedicated to assisting new Americans as they transition to life in the United States. This move comes after I called on President Biden to use his executive powers to establish a National Office of New Americans within the Executive Office of the President in order to promote and support integration and inclusion of immigrants and refugees.
“We must recognize that America will only grow stronger when we help new Americans contribute to the growth and prosperity of our nation. I look forward to continuing to work with President Biden to improve our immigration system and welcome new Americans to our shores.”
Rep. Mark Takano (D-Riverside), CAPAC second vice chair: “These executive orders build on President Biden’s previous action to restore humanity into our immigration system. By creating a Family Reunification Task Force, the administration is making it a priority to resolve the horrors created by Trump’s family separation policy and ensure that every child is reunited with their family.
“The comprehensive approach outlined in these executive orders will help us keep families together, improve our asylum process, and create a just immigration system that will allow present and future immigrants to contribute to our communities and help build a prosperous nation where diversity is celebrated.
“The Biden Administration is signaling to the world that America is a beacon of hope that welcome immigrants once again. I look forward to working with President Biden and my colleagues on legislative solutions to strengthen and rebuild our broken immigration system.”
Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), CAPAC Immigration Task Force chair: “As an immigrant who came to the United States alone at the age of 16 before starting the largest immigrant rights organization in Washington state, I am glad to see President Biden and Vice President Harris continue their quick actions to reverse the cruel immigration policies of the Trump Administration while beginning the process to reunify families, reverse the xenophobic public charge rule, support new Americans with necessary resources, and use every administrative tool available to strengthen our immigration system.
“Our immigration system has been broken for decades, and I look forward to working with this new administration and my partners in Congress to finally reform it in a fair, equitable, and humane way that focuses on respect, dignity, family unity, and real opportunity for all immigrants.”