President Joe Biden had a full schedule on his first day in office, signing at least 17 executive orders and actions that were awaiting his signature. Many of the orders reflect a dramatic shift from former President Donald Trump's administration, largely focusing on inclusivity and policies on climate change, as well as measures to combat the coronavirus pandemic.
— Bo Erickson CBS (@BoKnowsNews) January 20, 2021
Here are the orders the new president signed on his first day in office.
Ceasing border wall construction
“The proclamation will direct an immediate pause in wall construction projects to allow a close review of the legal basis for the funding, as well as the contract methods being used, and it will determine the best ways to redirect funds that were diverted by the Trump administration to fund wall construction,” Biden’s national security adviser-designate, Jake Sullivan said, according to The Hill.
More than $1.4 billion in funds set aside for the wall can now be redirected.
Ending the Muslim ban
“This ban, which restricted issuance of visas to individuals from many Muslim and African countries, was nothing less than a stain on our nation. It was rooted in xenophobia and religious animus and, President-elect Biden has been clear that we will not turn our back on our values with discriminatory bans on entry to the United States,” Sullivan said.
According to The Hill, the president will reinstate normal visa processing practices with 13 countries. Many of the countries affected by the change have Muslim-majority populations.
Counting non-citizens in U.S. Census
The 46th president also plans to restart the country's policy of counting non-citizens in the U.S. Census. Domestic Policy Adviser Susan Rice said the Trump policy prohibiting such, which was ordered in July, "violates the Constitution and the Census Act is inconsistent with our nation’s history and our commitment to representative democracy.”
The team added that the president “will then present to Congress an apportionment that is fair and accurate so federal resources are efficiently and fairly distributed for the next decade.”
Granting path to citizenship for millions of undocumented young people
In regards to the Dreamers program, Biden will call on Congress to grant permanent status and a path to citizenship to almost one million undocumented young people who were brought to the country as children. Although the Dreamers were protected during Barack Obama's administration, Trump had been continually striving to lift the protection, WSGW reported.
“Legal challenges by those opposed to DACA continue, and thus it remains at risk,” said Susan Rice, who leads the White House Domestic Policy Council. “The presidential memorandum also calls on Congress to enact legislation, providing permanent status and a path to citizenship for people who came to this country as children and have lived, worked, and contributed to our country for many years.”
Repealing Trump's effort to heighten immigration enforcements
Another policy will repeal Trump's effort to make interior immigration enforcement much stricter. The new administration said the Department of Homeland Security, in partnership with other agencies, will “set civil immigration enforcement policies that best protect the American people and are in line with our values and priorities.”
Biden's team didn't provide any more details on the policy regarding ICE.
Extending protection for Liberians
Mandating 100-day masking challenge
The 78-year-old, who takes office during a time of the raging pandemic, will be initiating a "100-day masking challenge" as part of his COVID-19 response. The order calls for a nationwide face mask and social distancing mandate in places such as federal buildings and federal lands.
Bringing back 'Directorate for Global Health Security and Biodefense'
As part of the COVID-19 response, the White House is bringing back an Obama-era policy known as the “Directorate for Global Health Security and Biodefense.”
"Moving forward, we will focus on immediate and emerging domestic and global biological threats and play a critical role in stopping this pandemic and preventing future biological catastrophes," said Biden counselor Jeff Zients, who will be the administration's COVID-19 response coordinator, KMOV reported.
During the Trump administration, the directorate office was dispersed into other roles. Biden's team said the former president's action decreased the preparedness of the federal government for the COVID-19 pandemic.
Rejoining the World Health Organization
In another significant reversal, the White House will rejoin the World Health Organization. Biden said he aims to re-establish the U.S. as an active leader at the WHO after Trump was in the process of leaving the organization.
In May, Trump terminated the nation's relationship with WHO as the pandemic continued to plague the globe.
In a statement on its website, the White House said it vows to immediately restore the country's "relationship with the World Health Organization, which — while not perfect — is essential to coordinating a global response during a pandemic.”
Extending eviction and foreclosure moratoriums
To help millions of Americans who are impacted by the pandemic, Biden aims to extend the already defunct eviction and foreclosure moratorium until at least March 31. He's also asking the Departments of Agriculture, Housing and Urban Development, as well as Veterans Affairs to extend the foreclosure moratoriums for their federally backed mortgages.
“These emergency measures are important,” Biden’s top economic adviser, Brian Deese said. “There are more than 11 million mortgages guaranteed by the VA, Department of Agriculture and HUD that would be extended.”
Pausing student loan payments
Rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement
The Biden administration will also focus on a number of environmental policies, including plans to rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement. The negotiations, which took place under the Obama administration and led by incoming climate change expert John Kerry, will take 30 days to go into effect.
Halting the Keystone Pipeline
In another environmental policy, Biden will effectively halt the Keystone Pipeline, in addition to revoking oil and gas development at national wildlife monuments. Biden’s climate adviser, Gina McCarthy, said the order will discard or redo more than 100 harmful presidential proclamations, memoranda or permits signed by the Trump administration.
The decision to stop the Keystone Pipeline comes after Trump permitted land development at the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments in Utah, as well as at the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine national monuments in New England. Under Obama, those lands were set aside for wildlife protection.
Advancing racial equity through the federal government
Biden's human rights policies include his efforts to advance racial equity through the federal government. As part of the policy, the Office of Management and Budget will analyze if federal money is equitably distributed in communities of color and other places of need.
The administration said the order will stop Trump's 1776 Commission, which supported the former president’s concern about the American education system becoming too liberal.
Strengthening workplace discrimination protections
Another policy to be signed on the first day aims to strengthen workplace discrimination protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity. This protection includes broadening the federal protections against sex discrimination to include LGBTQ+ groups.
“On day one, the Biden administration has taken immediate steps to include trans, nonbinary, and gender-nonconforming people in the conversation,” GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis said in a statement, according to The Hill. “Pronouns matter, and adding inclusive pronouns to a contact form is more than just a demonstration of allyship. Research has shown that recognition and respect of our pronouns can make all the difference for our health and wellbeing—especially when it comes to LGBTQ youth.”
Returning ethics to the White House
The ethics policy will require the federal employees to promise “to uphold the independence of the Department of Justice.” Marking another contrast from the previous administration, Biden's team aims to bring back ethics standards that were diminished in the past four years.
As part of the pledge, Biden's family members will not serve as employees or as board members for foreign companies, Click2Houston reported.
“It fixes many of the things that Trump broke and even breaks new ground in building on the Obama executive order,” Norm Eisen, a lawyer who served as Obama's ethics czar, said.
Freezing last-minute Trump administration regulatory actions
Additionally, White House chief of staff Ron Klain will lead the plan to freeze last-minute Trump administration regulatory actions. The previous order, which will now come to an end, aimed to weaken protections for migratory birds and to prevent regulation of greenhouse gas emissions, The Hill reported.