Read what they are saying about Biden’s actions to rebuild and strengthen America’s immigration system

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Updated: March 7, 2021

President Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Tuesday took executive actions that build upon his first day in office to strengthen America’s immigration system.

The president signed three executive orders that formed a family reunification task force, address irregular migration across the Southern border and create a humane asylum system, and begin to restore faith in our legal immigration system and promote integration of new Americans.

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The White House says the Biden’s actions “are centered on the premise that America is safer, stronger, and more prosperous with a fair, orderly, and humane immigration system that welcomes immigrants, keeps families together, and allows people – both newly arrived immigrants and people who have lived here for generations – to more fully contribute to our country.”

Here’s what they are saying about President Biden’s actions to rebuild and strengthen America’s immigration system:

Sergio Gonzales, Interim Executive Director, Immigration Hub: “We applaud the actions taken by President Biden to undo some of the worst attacks against immigrants unleashed by the previous administration. For four long years, immigrants and refugees bore the brunt of Trump and Stephen Miller’s diabolical policies, including ‘Remain in Mexico’ and the separation of families at the border. The orders announced today reaffirm our commitment and standing as a country that welcomes refugees and allows us to begin establishing immigration policies that align with our values.Along with the legalization bill and executive orders announced on January 20th, President Biden and Vice President Harris are showing bold leadership to establish a fair, humane immigration system while overhauling broken policies exacerbated under Trump. We are committed to continuing to work with the Biden-Harris administration as well as Congress to make the sweeping reforms necessary to transform immigration in this country, ensuring a path to citizenship and other humane initiatives that will turn the page on Trump’s cruelty and help America’s recovery.” [Press Release, 2/2/21]

Alida Garcia, Vice President for Advocacy, FWD.us: “We are thankful that President Biden and Vice President Harris continue to take steps to reverse the previous administration’s devastating policies at the southern border that led to the separation of thousands of families and blocked tens of thousands of people fleeing violence and persecution from making legitimate asylum claims. Further, we are encouraged by the details provided for the Administration’s plans to build a new system of migration across the Western Hemisphere, including the expansion of new avenues for people to apply for humanitarian relief closer to home. These measures must be swiftly, fully, and properly enacted, and coupled with a fair and humane asylum processing system at our border to meet the Administration’s commitment to keep our families and communities safe and our border managed in an orderly way.” [Press Release, 2/2/21]

Thomas J. Donohue, CEO, U.S. Chamber of Commerce: “We commend President Biden for taking action to ensure the reunification of separated families, address irregular migration across the Southern Border, and improve the functionality of our nation’s immigration system by conducting a top-to-bottom review of barriers to our legal immigration system. Policies adopted over the past several years have undermined critical employment-based visa programs and significantly hindered many different companies’ ability to expand their domestic operations and create jobs for Americans. President Biden’s order to coordinate immigration policy through the White House and his effort to ensure that legal immigration is fair and efficient are a clear indication of the priority his administration has placed on fixing our broken immigration system. We look forward to working with the Biden Administration to address these critical issues. Many other problems that are afflicting our nation’s immigration system, such as the growing backlogs in our legal immigration system, require Congressional action. Congress must pass common-sense immigration reforms to provide businesses with the certainty they need to meet their workforce demands in a timely fashion. Enacting those reforms will require steadfast leadership, and the Chamber stands ready to work with President Biden and Congress to get much-needed reforms signed into law.” [Press Release, 2/2/21]

Tom Jawetz, Vice President of Immigration Policy, Center for American Progress: “One of Secretary Mayorkas’ first responsibilities will be leading the newly announced Family Reunification Task Force, charged with rectifying a signature cruelty of the Trump administration—the separation of thousands of children from their parents. The executive order reflects that the administration understands both the complexity of the problem and the compelling need to spare no efforts to repair the damage done. A second executive order issued today will begin the process of restoring our asylum system and establishing fair, humane, and workable immigration and humanitarian pathways in the region. As we have long argued, getting migration in the Americas right requires constructive engagement with the countries in the region to promote human security and address the systemic issues pushing people to flee their countries. While we were heartened to see the administration stop putting people into the “Remain in Mexico” program on day one, we are similarly eager to see it use its authorities to begin to offer meaningful protection and due process to those already in the program. We are also hopeful that by offering new pathways to humanitarian protection for asylum-seekers and vulnerable children, the administration’s proactive approach will better live up to America’s best ideals.” [Press Release, 2/2/21]

Marielena Hincapié, Executive Director, National Immigration Law Center and the NILC Immigrant Justice Fund: “In his first days in office, President Biden has sent a clear signal that his administration sees immigrants as a strength to this country. The National Immigration Law Center celebrates the Biden administration’s policies that recognize the dignity of immigrants and their essential role in our communities. We applaud the president for moving quickly to begin undoing harms done by the previous administration while putting us on a path to a more immigrant-inclusive vision for America. President Biden is taking critical steps to end the harmful and racist wealth tests for immigrants, including the previous administration’s public charge regulations. These policies sought to redefine who we are as a country and who belongs here. Beginning to undo them is a necessary step toward reclaiming our position as a beacon of hope for people all around the world who seek safety and opportunity. It’s also key to our recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.” [Press Release, 2/2/21]

Rick Santos, President and CEO, Church World Service: “Step by step the Biden administration is returning the United States to its role as a nation of welcome. Seeking asylum is legal, granting asylum is moral, it’s time these facts are reflected by our immigration policy. No family should be separated, now or in the future, because of misguided policies.These executive actions are an important first step—but the administration cannot stop here. The United States should make it our priority to fully strengthen family immigration and further address the causes of forced migration immediately.” [Press Release, 2/2/21]

Virginia Kase, United States CEO, League of Women Voters: “We commend President Biden for prioritizing the reunification of thousands of families separated by the previous administration. Locating and connecting parents and children will be a massive undertaking across the government. Once this has occurred, our government must ensure that history will never be able to repeat itself again. We are further pleased that no longer will being Muslim, Latino, Asian, or a member of the African diaspora be used as an excuse to deny people their dignity and human rights … For more than a decade the League has supported a clean DREAM Act, the reunification of families,  a process for refugees and asylum seekers seeking entry to the U.S., and a path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented persons living in the United States. We commend the new administration for today’s steps which help our nation heal and demonstrate the value that a beautifully diverse immigrant population contributes to this country.” [Press Release, 2/2/21]

Families Belong Together: “We are encouraged to see the Biden-Harris administration taking urgent steps to reunite the hundreds of families still separated as a result of Trump’s cruel policies. This task force is a testament to the powerful efforts of brave families who have spoken out about their experiences within our immigration system and all the advocates fighting for justice across the country. The trauma suffered by these families is immeasurable, and reunification is just the first step on a long road to healing. That road to healing includes holding those behind these sadistic policies accountable. We look forward to working with the task force to ensure we live by our values, do right by those who have been wronged, and work to overhaul our immigration system so it centers dignity, care and compassion. #FamiliesBelongTogether” [Tweet, 2/2/21]

American Immigration Council: Hundreds of families separated by the Trump administration have still not been reunited. President Biden’s executive order creates a family reunification task force to make sure that happens … Good news: the Biden administration announced it will conduct an immediate review of expedited removal, a fast-track deportation method that threatens due process.” [TweetTweet, 2/2/20]

New Mexico Senator Ben Ray Luján: “The actions taken today by President Biden are the first steps toward repairing the harm done to immigrant and refugee families under the last administration. I applaud President Biden for taking these necessary and urgent actions. I urge further action by Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform that is tough and fair and recognizes the contributions of immigrants to the American dream.” [Tweet, 2/2/21]

Nevada Senator Jacky Rosen: “Immigration is at the center of our nation’s story. Immigrants built our country from the ground up and continue to define who we are as a nation. They invigorate our economy as visionaries and job creators, working in every industry and field, and contribute to the arts and culture, making our nation better each and every day. Today’s actions taken by President Biden reinforce our country’s commitment to a safer, stronger, and more humane immigration system that welcomes immigrants, keeps families together, preserves and fortifies protections for Dreamers, and streamlines the naturalization process. I look forward to working with the Biden Administration to restore faith in our legal immigration system and keep our country safe, strong, and prosperous.” [Press Release, 2/2/21]

California Senator Dianne Feinstein: “The executive orders President Biden is set to sign today will bring a much-needed measure of reason and humanity back to our immigration system. By ending some of the most harmful policies of the previous administration, President Biden is setting us on the path toward reforming our immigration policies and fixing a broken system. Chief among his initiatives is creating a family reunification task force. It’s unconscionable that children were torn from their parents in a cruel attempt to deter families from entering our country. We have a moral obligation to see that every child separated is returned to their family. I’m also glad the president is calling for a review of the so-called ‘Remain in Mexico’ program that blocked asylum seekers from legally entering the United States. Our country should be welcoming to those fleeing violence and persecution, and it’s time to restore that ideal. The United States should be a beacon of hope to those around the world. We must recommit to the words of Emma Lazarus: ‘Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.’ President Biden’s actions will ensure our country welcomes those seeking a better life.” [Press Release, 2/2/21]

New Hampshire Senator Jeanne Shaheen: Donald Trump’s cruel immigration policies didn’t address our national security or make us any safer. Tearing children from their parents’ arms w/ no plan to reunite them caused families lifelong trauma & will forever be a black mark on our nation’s history. I applaud @POTUS for creating a family reunification taskforce. Our immigration policies should reflect our values. Congress must build on this so together we can fix our broken immigration system to maintain our national security & uphold the promise of the American Dream.” [Tweet, 2/2/21]

New York Congressman Jerrold Nadler, Chairman of the House Committee on the Judiciary, and California Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, most recent Chair of the House Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship: “That the President has taken such wide-ranging actions on immigration in his first few weeks in office is indicative of just how much damage the Trump Administration did to our immigration system. It is encouraging to know that the Biden Administration will work quickly to review the harmful public charge rule and begin to restore stability for U.S. businesses, families, and asylum seekers harmed by the previous administration’s policies. We are also heartened to see President Biden prioritize the reunification of children separated under Trump’s unconscionable family separation policy. We look forward to hearing from the new task force as they work to reunite families here in the United States, and the Department of Justice on their efforts to hold the officials responsible for this policy accountable.”

California Congresswoman Nanette Diaz Barragán, Chairwoman of the Border Security, Facilitation and Operations Subcommittee of the House Committee on Homeland Security: “President Biden’s new task force is an important step to identify the true number of separated families and reunify the hundreds of children that have been taken from their families by the Trump Administration and still remain separated. This crisis will finally get the action it deserves. With the nomination of Secretary Mayorkas and the announcement of these new executive orders, President Biden has taken some critical first steps to make clear that creating a modern and just immigration system is a priority for his Administration. After the last four years, we need to work closely together to take concrete actions to reverse their damaging polices as quickly as possible. I look forward to working with the Secretary and the Administration to ensure a fair, just, and human system is in place for all immigrants while also addressing the root causes of migration from Mexico and Central America. Congress must also pass legislation to complement these executive orders. Today is a good start, but much more needs to be done.” [Press Release, 2/2/21]

California Congresswoman Linda T. Sánchez: “I welcome and applaud today’s executive actions on immigration. These are crucial steps that begin to unravel the damage done by the Trump administration’s incoherent and inhumane approach to immigration, which left gaping wounds in our immigration system. I am still scarred by some of the things I have seen and heard over the past few years, and I know that my experience pales in comparison to the trauma experienced by children, families, and others who have been harmed by Trump’s failed and immoral policies. These executive actions are just a starting point to build back a better system. It will take Congressional action to enact bold, permanent solutions to finally restore our values as a welcoming nation. In coordination with President Biden and Senator Menendez, I look forward to introducing the United States Citizenship Act in the House of Representatives soon. Our country is safer, stronger, and more prosperous with a fair and orderly immigration system that respects our values and centers humanity.” [Press Release, 2/2/21]

Texas Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia: ““It is refreshing to have a president who uses executive orders to help, not hurt,  our immigrant community. These executive orders are certainly a step in the right direction and reaffirm the Biden-Harris administration’s commitment to fixing our broken immigration system and bringing the nation together. The Biden administration’s executive orders will help put an end to years of cruel and inhumane immigration policies. From working to reunite the hundreds of children with their parents through the Family Reunification Task Force, to addressing the root causes of immigration to the United States by working with our neighboring countries, President Biden’s approach will keep our country safe while upholding our core values as Americans. While President Biden’s executive orders are a major improvement, Congress must step up and enact legislation that will complement and strengthen these orders. I look forward to working with the Biden-Harris administration to keep families together, ensure a pathway to citizenship, and enact fair immigration laws that treat those coming to our country in search for a better life and opportunity with the dignity and respect that they deserve.” [Press Release, 2/2/21]

Arizona Congressman Raúl M. Grijalva: “For four years, the Trump Administration’s immigration policies created a humanitarian crisis at the Southern Border. Those of us from the borderlands saw the unspeakable cruelty directed toward those seeking asylum and safety for their families and experienced firsthand the chaos wrought on our communities with increased militarization. These executive actions by President Biden are a positive step toward a more humane immigration system, and I urge him to continue implementing policies that improve conditions along the border. Immigration policies should be centered around creating and strengthening an immigration system that actually works, not one that only seeks punishment, separates families, and demonizes those in need. Our country is stronger and more prosperous thanks to the contributions of immigrants, and I look forward to working with the Biden Administration and my colleagues here in Congress on a comprehensive immigration bill that will make a more humane immigration system a reality. We can’t afford to wait.” [Press Release, 2/2/21]

Illinois Congressman Jesús “Chuy” García: “President Biden’s executive orders on immigration are a clear indication that he intends to rebuild a fair and humane immigration system. Reunifying separated families, reforming our asylum process, and promoting inclusion of new Americans into our communities are excellent first steps towards reforming our immigration system, but more should be done. Congress must expand and codify these changes into law. I see the suffering of too many families and friends in my own neighborhood of Little Village caused by the cruel policies that prioritize cruelty over compassion. I’ve seen and felt the desperation of the migrant families stranded at the U.S.-Mexico border and those living in inhumane detention centers because of Trump’s Migrant Protection Protocols and Zero Tolerance Policy. Every week I hear from constituents waiting decades to become citizens because of our long-broken immigration system … I look forward to working with the Biden administration and Secretary Mayorkas to return compassion to our immigration system and ensure that those who seek the American Dream have a chance reach it.” [Press Release, 2/2/21]

California Congresswoman Judy Chu, Chair, Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC): “As president, Joe Biden promised that he would restore our immigration system to one that served our families and the needs of the country. And I have been thrilled to see the President live up to this promise starting from his first day in office when he took action to protect Dreamers, end the Muslim Ban, and send an immigration bill to Congress. Now, with these orders, President Biden is taking concrete steps to heal the damage caused by the last administration, starting by reuniting families that were separated by the Trump Administration when they kidnapped children at the border and separated them from their families as a scare tactic to deter immigrants. That hateful policy has caused lasting damage for children and their parents. It is only right that we use every resource possible to try to bring these families back together and begin the healing process. As CAPAC Chair, I am pleased that the Biden Administration is taking steps to restore faith in our legal immigration system, which has long been a critical priority for the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. Over two thirds of Asian Americans are immigrants and many have waited decades to reunite with loved ones who are languishing in visa backlogs. Unfortunately, the Trump administration attempted to impose barriers to legal immigration, including suspending the entry of certain immigrants to the United States and implementing a cruel public charge rule. That’s why I am particularly pleased that President Biden is directing agencies to review the public charge rule and rescinding a memorandum that required families to repay the government for relatives who used public benefits. I am also thrilled that the Task Force on New Americans will be re-established to help provide resources to immigrants and their families, who so greatly enrich our communities. This is especially important now as we are continuing to struggle with an historic pandemic. These executive orders will help more immigrant families get access to healthcare, vaccines and other benefits which makes our communities as a whole safer. We know that immigrants are more likely to serve in front line jobs, like healthcare, risking their safety for our own. And we know that AAPIs and other communities of color are being disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. America has always been made stronger because of the contributions of our immigrants. I am proud to once again have a President who appreciates the value of immigration to America, and is prioritizing humanity and fairness over bigotry and division.” [Press Release, 2/2/20]

New York Congresswoman Grace Meng, First Vice Chair, CAPAC: “America is the nation that it is today because of the contributions made by immigrants. Our country is enriched by the diversity of cultures and backgrounds that have come to define the American story. Today marks a return to the America that welcomes immigrants seeking safety, security and opportunity in our great country. I applaud President Biden on his efforts to restore dignity to our immigration system by reuniting families separated by the Trump Administration, ensuring legal access for immigrants fleeing violence, and examining the factors that result in migrants needing to leave their homes. I am pleased that the executive order will also review the public charge rule, a callous and cold-hearted regulation I have fought to overturn from the moment it was implemented, which forces families to choose between putting food on the table or keeping their legal status. In addition, I’m glad to see attention dedicated to assisting new Americans as they transition to  life in the United States. This move comes after I called on President Biden to use his executive powers to establish a National Office of New Americans within the Executive Office of the President in order to promote and support integration and inclusion of immigrants and refugees. We must recognize that America will only grow stronger when we help new Americans contribute to the growth and prosperity of our nation. I look forward to continuing to work with President Biden to improve our immigration system and welcome new Americans to our shores.” [Press Release, 2/2/20]

California Congressman Mark Takano, Second Vice Chair, CAPAC: “These executive orders build on President Biden’s previous action to restore humanity into our immigration system. By creating a Family Reunification Task Force, the administration is making it a priority to resolve the horrors created by Trump’s family separation policy and ensure that every child is reunited with their family. The comprehensive approach outlined in these executive orders will help us keep families together, improve our asylum process, and create a just immigration system that will allow present and future immigrants to contribute to our communities and help build a prosperous nation where diversity is celebrated. The Biden Administration is signaling to the world that America is a beacon of hope that welcome immigrants once again. I look forward to working with President Biden and my colleagues on legislative solutions to strengthen and rebuild our broken immigration system.” [Press Release, 2/2/20]

Washington Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, Immigration Task Force Chair, CAPAC: “As an immigrant who came to the United States alone at the age of 16 before starting the largest immigrant rights organization in Washington state, I am glad to see President Biden and Vice President Harris continue their quick actions to reverse the cruel immigration policies of the Trump administration while beginning the process to reunify families, reverse the xenophobic public charge rule, support new Americans with necessary resources, and use every administrative tool available to strengthen our immigration system. Our immigration system has been broken for decades, and I look forward to working with this new administration and my partners in Congress to finally reform it in a fair, equitable, and humane way that focuses on respect, dignity, family unity, and real opportunity for all immigrants.” [Press Release, 2/2/20]

California Congressman Lou Correa: “President @JoeBiden is creating a task force to reunify children separated from their parents. This is a strong first step in reversing the damage caused by this horrendous policy.”

Nevada Congressman Steven Horsford: “In 2013, I worked across the aisle to pass a comprehensive immigration package out of the House. Today, President Biden is taking action to build on our work, reverse the damage of the Trump years, and reaffirm our commitment to a humane and compassionate immigration system.” [Tweet, 2/2/21]

Colorado Rep. Jason Crow: “These are strong steps towards the immigration reform our country needs. With these executive actions, President Biden continues to right the wrongs of Trump’s “zero-tolerance” immigration policy and restore humanity to our immigration system.” [Tweet, 2/2/21]

New York Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney: “The Biden Admin is taking real action to reunite families cruelly separated by the Trump Admin by establishing a task force to work across the US gov & w/ partners across the hemisphere. This is long overdue and I hope the families are reunited as soon as possible.” [Tweet, 2/2/21]###

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