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Summary of Biden Administration Actions

This page compiles significant Biden administration immigration policies that affect the catalogued Trump-era policies. More detailed descriptions of Biden administration actions modifying or revoking Trump administration polices appear in the relevant policy entries.

President Biden’s Day 1 Executive Actions

January 20, 2021

Reverses President Trump’s Executive Order Excluding Undocumented Immigrants from the Reapportionment Count

  • Executive Order revokes the prior Administration’s orders excluding noncitizens from the Census and apportionment of House of Representatives seats, and ensures that the Census Bureau has time to complete an accurate population count for each state.

Preserves and Fortifies Protections for Dreamers

  • Presidential Memorandum directs the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Attorney General, to take all appropriate actions under the law to achieve the goal of preserving and fortifying Dreamers’ protections.

Reverses the Muslim/African Bans

  • Proclamation ends the Muslim Ban, including repeals of Proclamations 9645 and 9983 restricting entry into the United States from primarily Muslim-majority and African countries.
  • State Department will restart visa processing for affected countries and swiftly propose remedies for harms caused by the bans, especially for individuals stuck in the waiver process and those who had immigrant visas denied.
  • Enhances information sharing with foreign governments to strengthen screening and vetting for travelers.
  • Directs reviews of Trump Administration “extreme vetting” practices.

Repeals Trump Interior Enforcement Executive Order

  • Executive Order revokes Trump Executive Order 13768, “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States” about interior immigration enforcement.
  • Promises civil immigration enforcement policies that best protect the American people in line with our values and priorities.

Stops Border Wall Construction

  • Proclamation immediately terminates the national emergency declaration used to justify some wall-funding diversions and immediately pauses wall construction projects to review legality of the funding and contracting methods used. A review will determine how to redirect funds diverted for wall construction.

Deferred Enforced Departure for Liberians Presidential Memorandum

  • Presidential Memorandum extends DED and work authorization until June 30, 2022 for Liberians. DHS will ensure that USCIS facilitates applications and timely adjudications for Liberians applying for residency under the Liberian Relief and Fairness Act.

Review of and Interim Revision to Civil Immigration Enforcement and Removal Policies and Priorities

January 20, 2021

Memo by Acting DHS Secretary David Pekoske establishes temporary enforcement priorities and announces a 100-day “pause” on removals of certain persons with final orders. Effective January 22, 2021, the moratorium applies to people with final orders of removal, not to other types of enforcement action such as arrests, detention, and removal proceedings. The memo requires a department-wide review of all enforcement practices to be completed within 100 days along with recommendations regarding enforcement, prosecutorial discretion, detention, and interaction with state and local law enforcement.

The memo also rescinds and supersedes the following Trump administration actions:

  • Department of Homeland Security, Enforcement of the Immigration Laws to Serve the National Interest, Memorandum of February 20, 2017.
  • U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Implementing the President’s Border Security and Interior Immigration Enforcement Policies, Memorandum of February 20, 2017.
  • U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Guidance to OPLA Attorneys Regarding the Implementation of the President’s Executive Orders and the Secretary’s Directives on Immigration Enforcement, Memorandum of August 15, 2017.
  • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Updated Guidance for the Referral of Cases and Issuance of Notices to Appear (NTAs) in Cases Involving Inadmissible and Deportable Aliens, Policy Memorandum of June 28, 2018. (US Citizenship and Immigration Services should revert to the preexisting guidance in Policy Memorandum 602-0050, US Citizenship and Immigration Services, Revised Guidance for the Referral of Cases and Issuance of Notices to Appear (NTAs) in Cases Involving Inadmissible and Removable Aliens, Policy Memorandum of Nov. 7, 2011.)
  • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Guidance for the Referral of Cases and Issuance of Notices to Appear (NTAs) When Processing a Case Involving Information Submitted by a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Requestor in Connection with a DACA Request or a DACA-Related Benefit Request (Past or Pending) or Pursuing Termination of DACA, Policy Memorandum of June 28, 2018.
  • U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Executive Orders 13767 and 13768 and the Secretary’s Implementation Directions of February 17, 2017, Memorandum of February 21, 2017.

Interim Enforcement Priorities: Effective February 1, 2021, the new enforcement priorities appear to cover the entire enforcement spectrum: “These priorities shall apply not only to the decision to issue, serve, file, or cancel a Notice to Appear, but also to a broad range of other discretionary enforcement decisions, including deciding: whom to stop, question, and arrest; whom to detain or release; whether to settle, dismiss, appeal, or join in a motion on a case; and whether to grant deferred action or parole.” Only the following individuals are identified as priorities during the 100-day moratorium:

National security threats – Those DHS alleges to be involved in terrorism, espionage, or pose national security risk.

Border Security – Those who attempted to enter unlawfully at either a port of entry or without inspection on or after November 1, 2020.

Public Safety – Those currently imprisoned in local, state, or federal jails who have an aggravated felony conviction and pose a threat to public safety.

Exceptions to the moratorium are slightly different than the enforcement priorities. The moratorium does NOT apply to:

  1. National security threats according to the Director of ICE.
  2. People who entered the United States on or after November 1, 2020.
  3. People who voluntarily agree to deportation after meaningful access to legal counsel.
  4. People for whom the Director of ICE determines that removal is required by law.

The memo instructs the Acting ICE Director to issue operational guidance including a process for “individualized review and consideration of the appropriate disposition for individuals who have been ordered removed for 90 days or more, to the extent necessary to implement this pause. The process shall provide for assessments of alternatives to removal including, but not limited to, staying or reopening cases, alternative forms of detention, custodial detention, whether to grant temporary deferred action, or other appropriate action.”

DHS Statement on the Suspension of New Enrollments in the Migrant Protection Protocols Program

January 20, 2021

DHS announces it will stop new enrollments in the MPP program. “Effective tomorrow, January 21, the Department will cease adding individuals into the program. However, current COVID-19 non-essential travel restrictions, both at the border and in the region, remain in place at this time. All current MPP participants should remain where they are, pending further official information from U.S. government officials.”

Regulatory Freeze Pending Review

January 20, 2021

White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain issues a memo for the heads of executive departments and agencies. They are required not to "propose or issue [any] rule in any manner" without review and approval by leadership designated by the new administration. In addition, for rules sent to the Office of the Federal Register but not yet published are withdrawn. For rules published in the Federal Register that have not yet taken effect, "consider postponing the rules' effective dates for 60 days from the date of this memorandum." The memo applies to: (a) “rules” as defined in section 551(4) of title 5; (b) any substantive action by an agency (normally published in the Federal Register) that promulgates or is expected to lead to the promulgation of a final rule or regulation, including notices of inquiry, advance notices of proposed rulemaking, and notices of proposed rulemaking; and (c) any agency statement of general applicability and future effect that sets forth a policy on a statutory, regulatory, or technical issue or an interpretation of a statutory or regulatory issue."

Rescinding the Zero-Tolerance Policy for Offenses Under 8 U.S.C. § 1325(a)

January 26, 2021

Acting Attorney General Monty Wilkinson issues a memo rescinding the April 6, 2018 "zero-tolerance memo by his predecessor Jeff Sessions. Wilkinson's rationale is that DOJ has a "longstanding principle of making individualized assessments in criminal cases. . . . A policy requiring a prosecutor to charge every case referred for prosecution under 8 U.S.C. § 1325(a) without regard for individual circumstances is inconsistent with our principles."