Date: Feb 03, 2021
Contact: Lauri Alvarez, Program Associate
Biden Administration Executive Orders Propose Welcome High-Level Regional & Immigration Actions, Urgent Action Needed to Address Families Stuck on Border
Washington D.C.—Latin America Working Group (LAWG) recognizes the Biden Administration immigration executive orders released yesterday, February 2nd, as important announcements outlining steps to repair the damage caused by the former Trump Administration. We call for urgent action and implementation details to follow soon since families are still stuck suffering and in danger on the border. President Biden’s three executive orders (Creating a Comprehensive Regional Framework to Address the Causes of Migration, Establishment of Interagency Taskforce on Reunification of Families, and Restoring Faith in our Legal Immigration Systems and Strengthening Integration and Inclusion Efforts for New Americans) focus on creating a taskforce to reunify families, developing a strategy to address migration at the border and the region, and removing obstacles to legal immigration.
LAWG welcomes the creation of an interagency taskforce to reunify families separated under the Trump Administration and the rescinding of the executive order formalizing this cruel practice. We also welcome the focus to expand access to protection in other countries in the region and to provide Central American refugees and asylum seekers with options so they can avoid the dangerous journey to the United States, including the reinstatement of the Central America Minors (CAM) program. The executive order also directs the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in conjunction with other agencies, to review and determine whether to rescind or modify the Remain in Mexico/ MPP policy, the Title 42 border order and the Asylum Cooperative Agreements. We welcome these directives as important first steps in the termination of anti-asylum policies that have denied protections to thousands at the U.S.-Mexico border and throughout the region. Importantly, the executive order also instructs DHS to “promptly begin consultation and planning with international and non-governmental organizations to develop policies and procedures for the safe and orderly processing of asylum claims at United States land borders, consistent with public health and safety and capacity constraints.”
Finally, the Comprehensive Regional Framework executive order states that the administration will address the causes of migration through a strategy “to confront the instability, violence, and economic insecurity that currently drives migrants from their homes.” LAWG welcomes the executive order’s focus on “combating corruption, strengthening democratic governance, and advancing the rule of law,” promoting respect for human rights, labor rights, and a free press; combating sexual and gender-based violence; and addressing economic inequality.
In response, LAWG co-directors issue the following statements:
“We welcome President Biden’s executive orders to reunify families, expand access to protections for refugees in the region and to review the illegal policies that denied protections to so many fleeing persecution. These are the first steps needed to repair our asylum system. But the reality is that there are thousands of families still stuck suffering on the border whose lives haven’t changed in the last week while others are being flown back to instability and danger in their home countries. We urge the Biden Administration to act quickly to process those waiting and uphold international law at our border,” emphasizes Daniella Burgi-Palomino, LAWG co-director.
“The United States should review and reorient not just aid programs but diplomacy towards the northern countries of Central America so U.S. policy truly addresses, not intensifies, the root causes of why people are fleeing. This starts with standing, not with corrupt and abusive governments, but with the citizens working for change. It means that President Biden should focus his energy not on useless efforts to get governments to block migration but on insisting that governments serve their people better so that they do not have to flee,” states Lisa Haugaard, LAWG co-director. “President Biden’s regional framework executive order rightly emphasizes corruption, human rights abuses, economic inequality, and gender-based violence as factors driving migration. We’d like to see this smart focus put into action.”