Two weeks into the Biden-Harris Administration, IINE is encouraged to see continued executive action aimed at halting and reversing immigration policies that disrupted millions of lives, businesses, and families in refugee and immigrant communities throughout the United States.
Following six executive actions on his first day in office that protected DACA recipients, overturned the Muslim Ban, and injected humanity into removal proceedings, President Biden signed three additional Executive Orders this week impacting immigration. Taken together, these orders underscore how “our country is safer, stronger, and more prosperous” when immigrants are treated humanely and recognized as assets to our society and economy.
President Biden’s three new orders, which give hope and directly impact families enrolled in our services today, serve to:
- Create a dedicated task force to reunite migrant children taken from their families at the southern border. Over 500 children remain separated from their parents or caregivers. The task force will be chaired by newly-confirmed Secretary for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Alejandro Mayorkas, the first Latino and immigrant to lead DHS.
- Restore humanitarian protections for vulnerable migrants from Central America seeking asylum and redress suffering caused by the Migrant Protection Protocols, which has forced tens of thousands of women, men, and children in search of safety to live in precarious and insecure situations in Mexico while awaiting the opportunity to apply for asylum in the U.S.
- Initiate “a top-to-bottom review” of policies and regulations enacted by the previous administration, including changes to the “public charge” rule that served to make immigrants and their families too afraid to access public benefits, despite disproportionately high rates of housing instability, food insecurity, and job loss due to the Covid-19 pandemic and economic crisis.
We are particularly pleased by the President’s instruction to review the possibility of reinstituting the Central American Minors (CAM) Parole Program, which was created under the Obama administration. IINE case workers previously implemented this program by ensuring that paroled youth received intensive support services, including connections to public schooling, health and mental health services, and legal assistance. While the CAM program was terminated in 2017, IINE has continued to support Central American and other migrant youth who travel on their own to the U.S. in search of safe harbor and family reunification. You can read about one such child in IINE’s recently-published 2020 Annual Report.
IINE also celebrates President Biden’s announcement on Thursday of his intention to raise the refugee admissions ceiling to 125,000 in the next full fiscal year, which begins on October 1. Over the past four years, we have had a front-row seat to the previous administration’s efforts to dismantle our national system of refugee resettlement. Where once the U.S. was a humanitarian leader in offering safe refuge globally, these processes have been badly damaged and will take time to rebuild to full and expanded strength. But it is a challenge we welcome, and at IINE we stand ready and eager to receive refugees from around the world.