In his first hours as President of the United States, the Biden administration will revoke through executive orders some of the policies assumed by the outgoing Donald Trump administration.
A bill to regularize the immigration status of nearly 11 million undocumented immigrants, executive orders to reverse travel bans on Muslim-majority countries, and a return to the U.S. to the Paris Climate Agreement are on the list of orders Biden plans to enact hours within taking office.
Some actions are scheduled to take place in his first ten days in office; others in his first hundred days. “President Biden will take steps not only to reverse the worst damage of the Trump administration but also to begin moving our country forward,” Ron Klain, Biden’s incoming Chief of Staff wrote in a memo.
Cancelling the Keystone XL pipeline project
Klain confirmed that among Biden’s first orders will be the cancellation of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline extension project.
Barack Obama rejected the Keystone XL project in November 2015 on environmental grounds; however, Trump approved it in March 2017 after assuming the Presidency.
The project’s environmental permit, which aims to transport crude oil from Canada to refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast, was cancelled in April 2020 by a federal judge in Montana.
Klain’s memo also reveals that on the first day of the Biden administration, Trump’s restriction on travelers from some Muslim-majority countries will end.
Immediately after taking office, Trump signed an executive order in January 2017 banning foreign nationals from seven predominantly Muslim countries from visiting the United States, later including North Koreans and certain officials of the Venezuelan regime.
Another measure that Biden hopes to implement is a bill to regularize the immigration status of nearly 11 million undocumented immigrants; a kind of comprehensive immigration reform that the Hispanic community in the country is waiting for.
Ron Klain said Saturday that the Biden administration will send an immigration bill to Congress “on his first day in office,” although he hasn’t provided any more details so far.
The bill includes a path to citizenship for 11 million people, a process that would take about 8 years. But for some immigrants the “green card” would be automatic, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris recently noted.
Although there is no precise figure on how many people live in the United States without regular immigration status, the Pew Research Center estimates that there were 10.5 million undocumented people in 2017.
The Department of Homeland Security estimated in 2015 that the figure was 12 million people, 80% of them living in the country without documents for more than 10 years, and half of them Mexicans.
Paris Climate Agreement
Trump announced the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement in June 2017, which became official in November of last year, but the Biden administration promised during his campaign that the country would return to the agreement if elected.
The current president has argued that the accord was “not designed to save the environment” but instead to “kill the American economy.”
“I refused to hand over millions of American jobs and send billions of dollars to the world’s worst polluters and environmental transgressors, and that’s what would have happened,” he said at the time.
During his first days in office, Biden will also make it mandatory to wear masks on federal property and during interstate travel.
“I know that masks have become a partisan issue, but it’s a patriotic act. Experts say wearing a mask from now until April will save more than 50,000 lives,” Biden wrote on Twitter.
Biden also recently announced that it will push forward a plan to vaccinate 100 million people within his first 100 days in office. Among other executive actions will include extending the existing break in student loan payments and preventing evictions and foreclosures during the pandemic.