WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) celebrates executive orders issued this week by President Biden to overturn a number of harmful Trump Administration immigration policies. These are crucial first steps in recognizing the dignity of immigrants and creating a more immigrant-inclusive vision for America.
These orders, together withthose issued previously (and others which are anticipated), are meaningful and assertive steps by the administration to craft just and equitable policy.
President Biden’s actions this week include creating a task force to reunite separated families, taking steps to restore the asylum system (which is critical to developing workable solutions to migration and asylum seeking worldwide) and initiating a robust review of the previous administration’s assault on legal immigration, which includes plans to undo the public charge rule. The public charge rule sets forth an immigrant’s likelihood to utilize public assistance programs as a criterion in assessing a permanent residency application.
On top of these important executive actions, the Senate confirmed Alejandro Mayorkas as the first Latino and immigrant to head the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Secretary Mayorkas’ first duties will be to lead the newly announced Family Reunification Task Force, which has the responsibility of righting the unspeakable wrong caused by the cruel Trump Administration’s family separation policy
We are heartened that President Biden is taking steps to establish fair, humane, and workable humanitarian avenues to asylum seeking in the U.S, border regions.Of particular note is the administration’s commitment to constructive engagement with Central American countries to jointly address security and other systemic issues that drive their citizens to travel thousands of miles to seek refuge in the United States.
This will hopefully end the deplorable “Remain in Mexico” program the Trump administration implemented with Mexico’s help. This program, which forced tens of thousands of asylum-seekers to await U.S. immigration court dates on the Mexican side of the border, was fraught with humanitarian and human rights abuses, including against Black asylum seekers.
NASW is also pleased with the new mandate for a comprehensive review of the current public charge rule. This review is crucial in undoing the unfair restrictions of access to needed social services for immigrant communities across the nation,including mixed status families.
With these orders, the Biden Administration is demonstrating its strong commitment to correcting the harms caused by the Trump administration. That said, they are not a substitute for comprehensive immigration reform.
We implore Congress to implement these long-overdue reforms to create a path to U.S. citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants who call our nation home. We also urge Congress to provide immediate financial relief, access to health care, and other support for all immigrants struggling under the weight of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The National Association of Social Workers (NASW), in Washington, DC, is the largest membership organization of professional social workers. It promotes, develops, and protects the practice of social work and social workers. NASW also seeks to enhance the well-being of individuals, families, and communities through its advocacy.