Illegal Honduran migrants on a road in Guatemala, Jan. 16, 2021. They want to go to the United States.
After signing dozens of presidential orders on Jan. 20, President Joe Biden signed three more immigration-related orders on Tuesday (Feb. 2) in a bid to reverse the hard-line immigration policies of former President Trump.
Biden explained this by saying, “I’m not making new laws, I’m eliminating bad old policies.”
The new orders signed by Biden aim to ease refugee asylum standards, change the Trump Administration‘s immigration public burden policy, create a “New Americans” task force, develop a strategy to address “irregular migration across the southern border,” and establish a strategy to address “irregular migration across the southern border. “and creating a task force to reunite (illegal immigrant) families who were separated during the previous administration.
A White House briefing released Feb. 2 said, “Biden’s strategy is based on the basic premise that our country will be safer, stronger and more prosperous, with an immigration system that is fair, safe, orderly, welcoming, reunites Family members, and allows people – both newcomers and generations of living here – to contribute more fully to our country.”
(Illegal Immigrant) Family Reunification Policy
Biden has created a task force to help reunite families whose adult family members were separated after being charged with entering the United States illegally.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Feb. 2 that 600 to 700 children from such families are currently separated from their Parents. Psaki said, “Part of what the task force needs to do in the early stages is to determine what the exact number is, where those children are, and then determine on a case-by-case basis what the best process and approach is to reunite them with their families.” A report on that will be available in 120 days, she said.
The Epoch Times has requested more detailed information from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which responded that it would provide the information within two days.
“President Biden believes family members should be reunited,” the briefing reads, “and he has made clear that reversing the Trump administration’s immigration policies that have separated thousands of families on both sides of the border is a top priority.”
Biden also ordered a re-examination of the Migrant Protection Protocol program, which requires illegal border crossers to wait in Mexico for a ruling on their immigration U.S. cases rather than being placed inside the United States.
Background on (Illegal Immigration) Family Separation
In April 2018, then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a “zero tolerance” policy for the prosecution of all adults who cross the border illegally, as required by U.S. Code Section 1325(a).
This means that children in families who have crossed the border illegally will be separated from their parents, and their parents will be detained incommunicado by U.S. Marshals pending prosecution. Under the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA), all children accompanying detained parents will be transferred to the U.S. Department of health and Human Services (DHHS) and reassigned to the Department of Justice. and Human Services (DHHS) and reclassified as unaccompanied minors. Over the next six weeks, approximately 5,000 families were affected.
For the same reason, both the Obama and Bush administrations have broken up families at the border who have illegally crossed the border.
In a July 9, 2019, statement, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) said that families entering at border crossings and seeking asylum are rarely separated anymore.
Todd Owen, executive assistant commissioner of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Office of Field Operations, said in a statement at the Time, “This is done only in emergency situations to protect children and ensure their well-being.”
Prior to the “zero tolerance” policy, U.S. Border Patrol agents found that many illegal immigrants were renting children on the southern side of the border so they could be quickly released from detention into the United States. Single adults who crossed the border illegally would be easily deported back or detained. But those with children who enter the country illegally are quickly released inside the U.S. due to the loophole in the law.
After strong opposition, former President Trump signed an executive order on June 20, 2018, to stop family separations, and “arrest and release” once again became the default practice for illegal border crossers with children until the U.S. government launched the Migrant Protection Protocol (MPP) program in early 2020. The U.S. government launched the Migrant Protection Protocol program, also known as Remain in Mexico, in early 2020.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which is responsible for reuniting illegal immigrant families, subsequently confirmed that nearly 13 percent of the parents of the initial group of families who crossed the border were felons or had lied about being the children’s parents.
In the course of implementing family reunification efforts, then-DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen was accused of deporting adults back to their Home countries while their children were left behind in the United States.
Appearing before the House Homeland Security Committee (HSC) for a hearing on March 6, 2019, Nielsen said, “I would also like to point out that under longstanding practice in the law, after any alien has gone through the deportation adjudication process and received a final order of deportation, we ask them if they would like to bring their children with them.”
“At the same time, their consulate or embassy – in order to issue them with travel documents to their home country – also asks them if you would like to take your children with you when you are deported… The judge also asked us to go back and ask again The parents, and to act jointly with the ‘American Civil Liberties Union’. And that’s what we did. So, as far as I know, all parents who have been deported have had multiple opportunities to take their children with them.”
Relaxing asylum standards
Biden’s new order also relaxes the standards for granting political asylum and will likely return to the 2014 Obama-era standards.
In July 2018, then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a ruling that essentially restored the standard for asylum availability to pre-2014 levels, when the Obama administration opened up the asylum standard to include private criminal cases, including domestic violence, in its considerations.
The definition of asylum has not changed. Asylum seekers have always been required to demonstrate that they have suffered past persecution or have a well-founded fear of future persecution in their home country because of their race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group.
However, persecution is usually considered to be perpetrated or condoned by the state regime, meaning that the government of the home country of these foreign applicants, is the initiator of the persecution. For example, in North Korea, the regime itself was persecuting Christians.
At the time, a DHS statement said that in asylum cases involving domestic violence, if the persecutor is a private actor, “then the applicant must show that their home government either condones this private act or has demonstrated a complete inability to protect them.”
“And it is not enough to show that the government has difficulty controlling that behavior or that certain individuals are likely to be victims of that crime.”
According to the Department of Homeland Security, before 2013, which is before the Obama administration expanded the criteria, about 1 in 100 aliens entering the country claimed a credible fear of persecution and sought asylum in the United States. By 2018, 1 in 10 claimed to have a credible fear of persecution.
Other executive measures taken by Biden include eliminating the Trump administration’s public burden rule for immigrants. The rule requires family sponsors to repay government benefits if non-citizen relatives receive public benefits.
He also created a Task Force on New Americans to promote integration and inclusion of immigrants.
The order requires agencies to “conduct a top-down review of regulations, policies and guidance that have recently created barriers to our legal immigration system.”
In Central America, the Biden Administration plans to take a three-pronged approach to “irregular immigration.
But the White House briefing did not elaborate on this, saying only that the Biden administration “will adopt a strategy that addresses the root causes of migration and addresses the instability, violence and economic insecurity that currently drive migrants from their homes.”
It also pledged to work with other countries and NGOs to provide opportunities for “asylum seekers and migrants closer to home (in their home countries).”
The briefing said, “Finally, the (Biden) administration will ensure that Central American refugees and asylum seekers are able to enter the United States through legal channels.”