President Joe Biden on Wednesday revoked a Trump-era executive order that temporarily banned some immigrant visas during the coronavirus pandemic.
The move opens up legal avenues to migrate to the US that former President Donald Trump had closed off, arguing at the time that it was in the best interest of the economy in the early months of the pandemic.
Biden charged in a proclamation Wednesday that Trump’s order “does not advance the interests of the United States. To the contrary, it harms the United States, including by preventing certain family members of United States citizens and lawful permanent residents from joining their families here.”
“It also harms industries in the United States that utilize talent from around the world,” the President continued. “And it harms individuals who were selected to receive the opportunity to apply for, and those who have likewise received, immigrant visas through the Fiscal Year 2020 Diversity Visa Lottery.”
Diversity visas are awarded by random selection in select countries to promote immigration from places that don’t otherwise send many immigrants to the US.
The proclamation marks just the latest effort from the Biden administration to dismantle the hardline immigration policies championed by the Trump administration. Over the course of Trump’s presidency, the administration overhauled the US immigration system, gutting asylum and reducing the number of refugee admissions to historic lows and severely curtailing legal immigration.
The coronavirus pandemic sped up even more tweaks to the system that had previously struggled to gain momentum, including Trump’s April executive order, which he had argued was necessary to save American jobs
“This order will ensure that unemployed Americans of all backgrounds will be first in line for jobs as our economy reopens,” he said at the White House at the time.
“Crucially, we’ll also preserve our health care resources for American patients. We have to take care of our patients; we have to take care of our great American workers. And that’s what we’re doing.”
Biden had outlined an ambitious immigration agenda on the campaign trail that would reverse the actions of his predecessor, vowing — for example — to introduce comprehensive immigration legislation and to maintain programs that provide relief to immigrants living in the United States.
He kicked off his term by signing out a series of immigration executive actions last month, though other immigration policy changes will take more time and coordination with Congress.
“There’s a long way to go. These are just executive actions,” Biden told reporters on his first day in office. “But we’re going to need legislation for a lot of these we’re going to do.”