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HIAS Statement on Executive Orders Repairing Damage to Immigration, Asylum

SILVER SPRING, Md. — President Joe Biden signed three executive orders today aimed at repairing the damage of some of the Trump-era policies that have been most harmful to immigrants and asylum seekers. 

“We applaud President Biden for these critical steps,” said Melanie Nezer, HIAS’ senior vice president for public affairs. “The administration said it would deliver bold action and we welcome it. This is a great start, but there is still a lot of work to do.”

“The Biden Administration is pursuing immigration and refugee policies that are humane and compassionate, after four years and more of policies that have inflicted so much unnecessary pain. Dramatically changing course is also just plain common sense. Immigrants and refugees are good for the country, and the majority of Americans support treating immigrants and refugees fairly.”

The first order signed establishes a task force to reunite children who American authorities separated from their families on the border, find ways for them to remain in the U.S. legally, and to help them heal.

The second order begins to address the root causes of migration from Central America, where violence and lawlessness have made life nearly impossible for much of the population. It also launches a review of the Trump administration’s Migrant Protection Protocols, or “Remain in Mexico” program. Under the MPP program, asylum seekers in the United States were sent to Mexico to wait for their U.S. court appearances, subjecting them to serious dangers. HIAS has issued a report with a set of recommendations to the administration on how to effectively end MPP and admit asylum seekers who have been waiting at the border, some for months or years. 

The third order calls for a review of all immigration-related regulatory and policy changes, most notably the “public charge” rule. This rule was particularly insidious, as it blocked people with legal channels to immigrate to the U.S. — for example the family members of people already here  — if they accessed food stamps or other public benefits, even for a short time to get through an emergency. 

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HIAS is the international Jewish humanitarian organization that provides vital services to refugees and asylum seekers in 16 countries. We advocate for the rights of all forcibly displaced people to rebuild their lives and seek to create a world in which they find safety, opportunity, and welcome.