Executive Orders of President Biden

January 20, 2020

On his first day in office, President Biden issued 17 executive actions to address the most pressing priorities of his administration.

Under the United States Constitution, the legislative branch (Congress) has the power to make laws. The executive branch is responsible for applying and enforcing these laws.

Sometimes the president can function as a legislator in his own right by issuing an executive order, although Congress generally interprets that authority more restrictively than the President.

Executive orders are issued to help the executive branch meet its obligations, and they have the force of law. The authority of an order comes either from a power granted to the President by the Constitution or from the power delegated to the President by Congress in a specific law.

Like laws adopted in the usual way: decreed by Congress and signed by the President; executive orders can be reviewed by the courts and can be reversed. They can also be overruled by new legislation or new executive orders.

Executive orders are useful when urgent action is needed and can provide direction until the formal process of legislating occurs.

What does Biden aim to achieve on immigration and visas?

With an executive order, Biden has strengthened the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that protects immigrants brought to the United States as children, often called Dreamers, from deportation.

Trump sought for years to end the program, known as DACA. The order also asks Congress to enact legislation that provides permanent status and a path to citizenship for those immigrants.

Another executive order overturns the Trump administration’s plan to exclude non-citizens from the census count, and another overturns a Trump executive order that spurred aggressive efforts to find and deport unauthorized immigrants. However, another order blocks the deportation of Liberians who have been living in the United States.

In a blow to one of his predecessor’s early moves to limit immigration, Biden also ended the so-called Muslim ban, which blocked travel to the United States from several predominantly Muslim and African countries.

Biden has directed the State Department to restart visa processing for people from affected countries and to develop ways to address the harm caused to those who were unable to enter the United States due to the ban.

Biden also halted construction of Trump’s border wall with Mexico. The order includes an “immediate termination” of the national emergency declaration that allowed the Trump administration to redirect billions of dollars to the wall. He says the administration will begin “a close review” of the legality of the effort to divert federal money to fund the wall.