Just hours after his inauguration at the US Capitol, President Joe Biden signed 15 executive actions that his team says is aimed to reverse the gravest damages of the Trump administration.
The string of executive orders, memorandums and directives that will reverse some of his predecessor, Donald Trump’s most divisive policies, include rescinding the so-called Muslim ban, rejoining the Paris climate accord, and ending the process to withdraw from the world health organization (WHO).
According to The Guardian, Biden’s first big challenge as he enters the White House will be tackling the surging COVID-19 pandemic, which has killed more than 400,000 people across the country to date.
To that effect, Biden signed an order on Wednesday afternoon to institute a 100-day mask mandate across the US and appoint a COVID-19 coordinator to manage a national response to the pandemic.
He has also announced that the US would remain a member of the WHO and that Dr Anthony Fauci, the director of the national institute of allergy and infectious diseases, would attend the ongoing WHO executive board meeting as the head of the US delegation.
Biden rescinded the so-called Muslim ban, an executive order Trump signed in 2017 that banned travellers from seven Muslim-majority nations from entering the US.
The ban was changed several times amid legal challenges and ultimately upheld by the US supreme court in 2018.
“The president put an end to the Muslim ban a policy rooted in religious animus and xenophobia, Biden’s White House press secretary Jen Psaki said during a Wednesday evening briefing.
The Council on American-Islamic relations welcomed the decision as an important first step toward undoing the anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant policies of the previous administration.
“It is an important fulfilment of a campaign pledge to the Muslim community and its allies, the group’s executive director, Nihad Awad, said in a statement.
The US will once again become a party to the Paris Agreement, Biden also announced.
The move to rejoin the international treaty on climate change is expected to take effect 30 days after it is deposited with the UN, Biden’s team said earlier on Wednesday.
In November, the US became the first country in the world to withdraw from the treaty, a move that fuelled tensions between Washington and its allies in Europe and drew a widespread rebuke from environmental and human rights groups.
Biden also rescinded the national emergency declaration that was used to justify some of Trump’s funding diversions to build the wall on the US-Mexico border.
The order, Biden’s team said earlier on Wednesday, will direct an immediate pause in construction to allow for a review of the funding and contracting methods used.
Building a big and beautiful wall between the US and Mexico to block undocumented immigrants from entering the country was one of Trump’s key 2016 election campaign promises.
Biden also revoked the presidential permit granted to the multibillion-dollar Keystone XL pipeline, a contentious energy project that was slated to ship 830,000 barrels of oil per day between the Canadian province of Alberta and the US state of Nebraska.
In 2012, while serving as vice president to President Barack Obama, the US adopted Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) to provide temporary relief from deportation to “Dreamers”, young people who were brought to the US as children.
The Trump administration tried to terminate the programme, through which 700,000 young people have applied for relief.
In a presidential memorandum signed on Wednesday, Biden directed the secretary of homeland security, in consultation with the US attorney general, to make sure that DACA is preserved and fortified.
The memorandum also calls on Congress to enact legislation that would provide permanent status and a pathway to citizenship.