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What’s in the executive order Biden plans for undocumented migrants?

Biden is planning a sweep of day one executive orders and bills when he takes office on 20 January, several of them on immigration policy. What's the plan?

What’s in the executive order Biden plans for undocumented migrants?
CHANDAN KHANNA AFP

Joe Biden’s transition is now going full steam ahead following some teething problems. On Monday, an incredible 21 days following Election Day and 16 days after Biden was officially predicted the winner by all major news agencies, Donald Trump finally deigned to give the green light to the General Services Administration (GSA) to allow the normal transfer of power to begin.

Before being welcomed in this week by the GSA and awarded the full access to federal resources and classified briefings that this handshake allows, Biden was already preparing a consignment of urgent executive orders, or “instant laws” to reverse some of the Trump policies sees as most pressing.

What is an executive order?

An executive order is a command, or directive, signed by a sitting president which takes immediate effect and entirely bypasses the need for congressional approval. In a situation where the House and the Senate are controlled by opposing parties, much legislation that doesn’t serve bipartisan interests simply gets blocked. Executive orders can untie a president’s hands a little.

What is in Biden’s executive order for undocumented migrants?

Biden’s campaign website promises to “modernize America’s immigration system,” as such Biden will reportedly be signing an executive order to immeditately repeal the travel ban that prevented mostly Muslim-majority countries from entering the US.

He has also promised to reinstate the "Dreamers" program which Trump which allowed children of undocumented immigrants to remain in the country.

There may even be more than only executive orders pending, "I will send an immigration bill to the United States Senate with a pathway to citizenship for over 11 million undocumented people in America," Biden said in an interview with NBC News this week. It’s unclear what the details of this are as yet, but the number includes plans already made for the “Dreamers” and signals ambitions for much more comprehensive immigration reform.

The balance of power in the Senate is dependent on the outcome of two runoff elections in Georgia, should the Senate remain in Republican control, Biden could face an uphill struggle on that more ambitious plan.

What other executive orders is Biden planning to sign?

We already know that Joe Biden is planning on signing several other orders on his first day on the job.

  • Immediately rejoin the Paris climate accords, as well as seeking to push other countries into lowering their emissions.
  • Undo Trump’s action to withdraw the US’s membership from the World Health Organisation (WHO), and rejoin as a global health leader. The coronavirus pandemic will remain top of Biden’s agenda in 2021.
  • Biden also plans to repeal the transgender military ban. Trump banned the practice through executive order in 2017, and Biden, would allow a transgender individual to serve openly in the US military.