US President Joe Biden on Tuesday signed new executive orders to overturn measures taken by the Donald Trump administration to control immigration.
Before confirming the orders, the agent said he was not making new laws. “I eliminate bad policies,” he told reporters at the White House.
One of the measures creates a working group to promote the reunification of family members separated by immigration policies adopted by the previous administration. This team will bring together immigrant and government representatives to find ways to reconnect parents and children who have lost contact, in addition to taking steps to end the practice.
Under the Trump administration, thousands of undocumented children and immigrant youth were separated from their loved ones when captured, usually near the border. Parents and children were sent to different and remote detention centers in an attempt to deter foreigners from coming.
In 2018, scenes of children held in cages, without any information about their parents, drew criticism and the court ordered the practice to end. To date, however, at least 600 children are still separated from their parents, according to a survey cited by Reuters.
This is the second major initiative of the new president on the subject. On the first day of the government, January 20, he signed six more immigration orders, including the suspension of work to expand the wall on the border with Mexico.
However, measures may face resistance. A federal judge has blocked one of Biden’s actions, the 100-day freeze on most evictions. Thus, there is a risk that further demands by conservative activists in court will delay the dismantling of Trump’s policies.
The Biden government will also implement a program to try to create better living conditions in the countries of Central America, where many migrants leave for the United States. This initiative will be carried out in partnership with country governments and international NGOs.
With that, a strategy used in the government of Barack Obama is repeated. At the time, as vice president, Biden sought to engage with countries like Guatemala and Honduras and offer assistance for social programs in return for those governments’ efforts to prevent immigrants from leaving for them. United States.
Trump followed a similar strategy, but more aggressively: he struck a deal with Mexico so that irregular immigrants trying to reach the United States would be contained in that country, before attempting to cross the border. To put pressure on the Mexican government, the Republican threatened to raise tariffs on imports from Mexico to the United States.
The Republican administration has also created a program, called MPP, for asylum seekers in the United States to wait for a response on Mexican territory. Before, it was possible to wait inside the United States.
Asylum is for people who have had to flee their country due to situations such as political or religious persecution. However, conservative groups criticize the mechanism, claiming that many foreigners are using it as a strategy to enter the United States without actually being in danger.
The MPP sent 65,000 asylum seekers awaiting a response to Mexico. Many of them returned to their countries, while others remained in camps near the border on the Mexican side. In 2019, 46,000 people were granted asylum in the United States, according to DHS (Department of Homeland Security) data.
The Biden government stopped including immigrants in the MPP and ordered a review of the program on Tuesday, but has not yet determined what to do with people waiting for responses in Mexico.
Biden seeks to slowly reverse Trump’s migration policies, both for bureaucratic reasons – the previous government made changes through a series of different laws and rules – and to avoid a new wave of immigration that could arise if there is a feeling that the application has been applied. weakened.
Stopping immigration was one of the main themes of Donald Trump’s campaign, and the increase in the number of foreigners could serve as fuel to mobilize his supporters. There will be legislative elections in the country from 2022.
In December, before taking office, Biden said the United States must create a protective barrier so that it does not “end up with 2 million people at our border.”
Although high, the number is not far from the reality. In 2019, 1.01 million foreigners who attempted to enter or remain in the United States illegally were detained or deported, according to DHS. The value was almost double that recorded in 2018, but it meant a return to the level of previous decades: between 1990 and 2006, the total number of immigrants caught in an illegal situation was still over 1 million per year.
On Tuesday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the government plans to create mechanisms that treat immigrants in a more humane way, but stressed that “now is not the time to come to the States -United”.