NPNA Applauds Biden Administration’s Strong Start on Immigration; Urges Important Next Steps to Uplift Immigrants and Refugees

 

WASHINGTON – Today, President Joe Biden is expected to issue a series of executive actions that aim to expand access to citizenship and re-establish the United States as a nation of refuge that treats newcomers humanely, regardless of the circumstances of their arrival to our borders and shores. The actions also include reviewing all barriers to citizenship and legal immigration, including the public charge rule; taking steps towards streamlining the naturalization process; and establishing a Task Force of New Americans, within the White House, to coordinate a federal policy to include immigrants. The actions signaled a much-needed rejection of the cruel policies instituted by the previous administration and pave a path for meaningful and sustainable improvements to America’s immigration policy. 

The National Partnership for New Americans (NPNA), a leading national coalition of 41 immigrant and refugee rights organizations, commends the Biden administration for prioritizing urgently-needed changes to America’s immigration system immediately upon taking office. Today’s executive actions represent important progress in undoing some of the most inhumane of the Trump administration’s policies, beginning the administrative process of undoing bureaucratic barriers, and proactively setting a new course for our immigration policy. These actions reverse policies that prevented individuals escaping horrific circumstances to enter the U.S. and seek asylum; establish a task force to reunite families who were unfathomably separated at the Mexican border and are still separated; remove barriers to citizenship and begin rollback of the mean-spirited, so-called “public charge” rule; and set principles for his administration’s refugee policy. 

“We applaud the administration’s actions to tear down barriers to asylum and refuge, reunite families, and not make immigrants choose between getting a green card or getting life-changing health, housing, or nutrition benefits for themselves and their families,” said Nicole Melaku, executive director of NPNA. “These measures are strong next steps toward turning the page, and we look forward to working with the administration to not only reverse what Trump did but begin to build a fundamentally different approach to how the federal government treats immigrants and refugees.”

The most recent actions signed by President Biden complement his administration’s earlier positive actions and proposals on immigration. These early actions included such important steps as rescinding the Muslim and African travel bans; fortifying DACA; reversing federal policies that sought to exclude undocumented immigrants from the Census count; rescinding draconian enforcement priorities; pausing deportations for 100 days; ending enrollments in the Migration Protection Protocols (or Remain in Mexico) program; ending the “zero-tolerance policy” that led to so many unforgivable child separations; extending Temporary Protected Status for Syrians; and deciding not to implement application fee increases that were proposed under Trump. 

President Biden’s executive actions followed a landmark legislative proposal, titled the U.S. Citizenship Act, that was put forth by the administration on its first day in office to comprehensively reform the immigration system, including creating grant programs to community-based organizations for assistance with citizenship and workforce development and English-language learning programs. NPNA commends the Biden administration for all of its early actions and proposals and for the prioritization of a proactive immigration agenda that will help to heal and strengthen our nation. 

As the Biden administration continues its work, the nation’s immigrant communities call on the administration to build on its initial immigration actions and proposals by taking additional critical steps to reform our nation’s broken immigration system in a sustainable, equitable, and inclusive manner. By taking the following actions, the Biden administration can abide by its mandate to serve and uplift the vast populations of immigrants who showed up in unprecedented numbers to help propel President Biden and Vice-President Harris to the White House: 

  • Utilize the Task Force of New Americans to coordinate nationwide inclusion efforts and cross-agency policymaking on immigration, and herald the establishment of a National Office of New Americans
  • Launch a campaign to naturalize two million new citizens by 2022 and reform USCIS, including expanding access to fee waivers, rescinding the new civics test, and reducing the application backlog and processing delays
  • Promote equity by expanding access to justice and legal services for all immigrants

NPNA, its member organizations across the country, and the millions of immigrants and refugees we work to serve, commend the Biden administration for its strong start on immigration policy and look forward to partnering with the administration to take further steps urgently needed to truly re-establish America as a land of opportunity and prosperity for all.