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Video: Mayorkas vows to replace Trump-era immigration policies

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Mayorkas vows to replace Trump-era immigration policies

On Monday, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas discussed efforts to reverse immigration policies established by the Trump administration, including those involving children.

We are determined to achieve and, quite frankly, we are working tirelessly to replace the cruelty of the old administration with an orderly, humane and safe immigration process. It’s hard and it will take time. We are obligated, in the service of public health, including the health of those who are considering coming, to impose travel restrictions under CDC Title 42 authorities and send them back to Mexico. And we did. We need individuals to wait, and I will say they will wait with one goal in mind, and that is our ability to rebuild a system as quickly as possible so that they don’t have to make the dangerous journey, and we can provide access to humanitarian aid from their country of origin. We are not apprehending a 9 year old child who came alone, who crossed Mexico, whose parents – whose loving parents – had sent this child alone. We are not deporting this 9 year old child to Mexico when the country of origin of this child was Guatemala, Honduras or El Salvador.

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Supreme Court hears cases on abortion and immigration referrals

WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to rule on two initiatives by the Trump administration: one placing limits on a federal health program in an attempt to restrict access to abortion, and the other denying green cards to immigrants considered likely to make occasional use of public benefits like food stamps.

According to the court’s regular schedule, cases will be debated in the fall. But they might be moot by then, as President Biden has signaled that his administration is reconsidering both measures.

The abortion referral case concerns a program known as Title X, which helps poor women pay for birth control, preventive health screening for breast and cervical cancer, and treatment of sexually transmitted infections.

The program, established under a law enacted in 1970, prohibits federal grants from being “used in programs where abortion is a method of family planning.” The precise meaning of these words is disputed and, over the years, it has been the subject of various interpretations by different administrations.

The Trump administration announced in 2019 that clinics receiving money under the program could not refer patients for abortions at other facilities. Leading medical associations have said this “gag rule” violates medical ethics, and Planned Parenthood has withdrawn from the program.

Several states, the American Medical Association and others have filed a lawsuit challenging the measure, and federal appeals courts in San Francisco and Richmond, Va., Have rendered conflicting decisions. These divisions often lead to review by the Supreme Court.

The cases the court agreed to consider – Cochran v. Mayor and Baltimore City Council, # 20-454, American Medical Association v. Cochran, # 20-429 and Oregon v. Cochran, # 20-539 – may become irrelevant if the Biden administration revises restrictive regulations of the Trump administration.

The Immigration Case, Department of Homeland Security v. New York, # 20-449, concerns the so-called public charge rule, which seeks to discourage some immigrants from using public services.

The Trump administration announced in 2019 that it would revise the rule, which allows officials to deny permanent legal status, also known as a green card, to immigrants who may be in need of public assistance. In the past, only substantial and sustained financial aid or long-term institutionalization counted, and less than 1% of applicants were disqualified for reasons of public office.

The administration’s revised rule broadened the criteria to include “non-cash benefits meeting basic needs such as accommodation or food” used every 12 months over a 36-month period. Using two types of benefits in a single month counts as two months, and so on.

Mr Biden called for a quick review of the measure. One of its goals, he said, was “to reduce fear and confusion among affected communities”.

In August, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York City ruled against the Trump administration, saying the new program would cool participation in public services for those who are eligible.

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Why Biden is now tackling immigration

As Democratic lawmakers unveiled their legislative proposal on Thursday, they presented it as a deliberate rejection of the Trump administration’s approach. Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey, one of the bill’s main sponsors, said that by sending Biden to the White House, the Americans had effectively instructed Congress to “fix our immigration system, which is the cornerstone of Trump’s hate horror show ”.

The bill would pave the way for citizenship for almost all undocumented immigrants living in the United States, increase legal immigration, and speed up the screening of asylum seekers. It would also take measures to secure the country’s borders and entry points, while investing $ 4 billion in the economies of Central American countries to reduce incentives to emigrate. And that would remove the word “foreign” from federal law in favor of “non-citizen”.

To say that this represents a departure from previous approaches to immigration reform would be an understatement. The last time Congress passed major reform was in 1986, when President Ronald Reagan signed a law prohibiting employers from hiring undocumented immigrants.

President George W. Bush subsequently placed a center-right plan for comprehensive reform at the heart of his appeal to Hispanic voters. He won 44% of the Latin American vote in the 2004 election, according to exit polls – unusually high for a Republican candidate – but the reform was never passed.

His successor, Barack Obama, proposed an immigration bill that balanced enforcement measures with a pathway to citizenship for undocumented migrants, but this never became a top priority and has dark. This has left many immigration advocates disappointed – and, in some cases, suspicious of Biden, the former vice president of Obama.

Under Obama, the downward trend in the overall number of deportations continued from previous administrations, and he emphasized the deportation of people with criminal records. But ultimately, he deported more than five million people, while strengthening the role of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, an agency installed under Bush.

Trump rose to the Republican nomination and then to the presidency, in part thanks to his opposition to immigration and the racial overtones it allowed him to ring. His draconian border policies may have been the defining issue of his presidency and helped rally his base around his conservative populism.

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Biden reports flexible on immigration overhaul

WASHINGTON – President Biden has stated on several occasions that he wants to create a path to citizenship for all 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States.

But even as he prepares to push for the broadest possible overhaul of the country’s immigration laws, he and his collaborators have begun to signal their openness to more targeted approaches that could gain citizenship from larger groups. small and discreet immigrants without papers. At a CNN town hall on Tuesday, he said such efforts would be acceptable “in the meantime.”

In a private phone call with activists on Wednesday, Mr. Biden’s senior immigration officials said they supported what they called a “multiple train” strategy, which could target citizenship for “Dreamers”. », Young immigrants brought into the country illegally when they were children; farm workers who worked for years in American fields; and others.

Smaller bills could move forward as the president tries to rally support for the larger legislation, which is due to be introduced on Thursday, according to two people who were on the call.

If he chooses to take it step by step, Mr. Biden seems unlikely to anger the more powerful pro-immigration groups, who are adopting a more pragmatic strategy after dramatic defeats under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. .

For more than two decades, activists have tried and failed to push through a sweeping overhaul of the country’s immigration laws that would create a path to citizenship for most undocumented immigrants, a faster path to the dreamers, expanded visa access for highly skilled workers and a new program for seasonal farm workers.

They are betting that Mr. Biden will find it even harder than his predecessors to gain the support of a Republican party that has become more anti-immigrant under the Trump administration.

While activists are prepared to let Mr Biden attempt a bipartisan deal this year, they have warned they will not wait forever.

“We want 11 million people to be legalized. He’s our North Star, ”said Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s Voice and veteran of the immigration wars in the nation’s capital for over 30 years. “But we can’t go home empty-handed. We are not going to take an all or nothing approach. We must achieve a breakthrough. “

For those like Mr Sharry, this is a major change, and it could herald fierce debates over whether Democrats should use parliamentary tactics in the Senate to pass individual immigration measures without any Republican backing.

Activists are mobilizing in the name of separate bills that would legalize the Dreamers; farmers; immigrants were granted temporary status after fleeing war and natural disasters; and undocumented “essential workers” who have fought on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic.

Publicly, the White House is insisting that Congress pass the president’s vast immigration overhaul. Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said this week that Mr Biden was pushing for comprehensive changes because “they all need to be dealt with – that’s why he brought them together.”

And key supporters of Mr. Biden’s legislation in Congress – Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey and Representative Linda T. Sánchez of California – say abandoning the larger effort even before it had started would be a mistake. Mr Menendez and Ms Sánchez are expected to reveal details of the president’s legislation on Thursday morning after his introduction to the House.

A Democratic aide familiar with the legislation said that if immigration activists were only asking for “half a bread,” they shouldn’t be surprised when they end up returning home with just one slice of bread.

“We have an economic and moral imperative to adopt ambitious, bold and inclusive immigration reform – reform that leaves no one behind,” Menendez said Wednesday evening. He criticized defenders for not wanting to fight for legislation that would ultimately legalize all of the country’s undocumented population.

“We don’t have to start with out-of-the-door concessions. We are not going to start with two million undocumented migrants instead of 11 million, ”he said. “We will never win an argument that we don’t have the courage to make. We must advocate for bold, inclusive and sustainable immigration reform. “

How to successfully revamp the country’s immigration system has eluded policy makers in Washington for decades. The last time a major immigration bill was enacted was in 1990, when President George Bush extended legal immigration to the United States, before the explosion of illegal border crossings. southwest in the next 20 years.

The surge in illegal border crossings prompted Conservatives to demand increased enforcement, even as the backlog of legal immigration created a growing crisis for businesses seeking workers and for families seeking refuge in the United States from violence and disasters in their country.

For nearly three decades, immigration proponents have argued for a single, comprehensive bill with elements that could unite Democrats and Republicans, unions and big business, security-conscious conservatives and supporters of liberal immigration.

These bills – which were introduced in 2001, 2006, 2007 and 2013 – centered on a compromise: strengthening border security and immigration law enforcement in exchange for a path to citizenship for Homeless. They also included increases in the number of temporary workers allowed to enter the United States; more resources for processing asylum claims; new opportunities for highly skilled workers from other countries; certain limits on immigration based on family ties; and protections for undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children.

But none of these efforts succeeded. Despite the support of President George W. Bush, the Senate and the House failed to find a compromise in 2006, and the 2007 legislation was defeated in the Senate. In 2013, Obama won a bipartisan Senate immigration overhaul, 68-32, only to see it ignored by the Republican-controlled House. Over the past four years, part of the conservative side of the equation – border security – has been secured by Donald J. Trump in the form of strict restrictions on asylum seekers and the partial construction of the border wall. of Mr. Trump.

Mr Biden won the presidency in part by pledging to bring back bipartisanship and saying his long-standing Senate connections would help him bridge partisan divisions that have widened in recent years. Ms Psaki said the president had laid out “the principles of what we think the proposal should look like” in the hope of addressing the root causes of immigration problems.

But immigration advocates say the story of failure has sparked a shift in strategy this year.

“You’re talking about a fight we’ve been fighting for over three decades at this point,” said Lorella Praeli, president of Community Change Action. “I am not interested in a dance. I am determined to see this through and make real changes. “

Ms Praeli and other proponents congratulated Mr Biden, Mr Menendez and Ms Sánchez on their broader bill. But they also called on the president to promise he would also use a budget tool known as reconciliation to enact smaller pieces of the legislation while continuing the larger effort.

Under Senate rules, laws that significantly affect the nation’s budget can be passed with only a majority vote, avoiding filibuster rules that require the support of 60 senators. With the current 50-50 Senate, that would give Democrats the ability to pass reconciliation bills without Republican support and with Vice President Kamala Harris voting for the tiebreaker – if they can stay united.

Immigration proponents say more targeted efforts to legalize some undocumented immigrants would fall under the sometimes confusing rules of reconciliation, which are supposed to ban the outright political measures of bills supposed to deal with taxation and government spending . As newly legalized residents would impact tax revenues and government benefits, groups say immigration laws could be adapted as budget measures.

Reconciliation is already being used to bolster Mr Biden’s $ 1.9 trillion pandemic relief package, but another budget measure is expected to address infrastructure funding and climate change.

“We should be included in this package,” Mr. Sharry of America’s Voice said.

Mr. Biden’s immigration efforts face even more headwinds than those of Mr. Obama and George W. Bush.

Many Republican senators who had supported immigration – including John McCain and Jeff Flake of Arizona; Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker of Tennessee; Orrin Hatch of Utah; Dean Heller from Nevada; and others – left the Senate. Others, like Marco Rubio from Florida and Lindsey Graham from South Carolina, who helped negotiate previous immigration packages, have changed direction over the Trump years.

Kerri Talbot, deputy director of the immigration center, said it was clear to many groups that Republicans could not be counted on to support a broad immigration overhaul without the kind of extreme measures that Mr. Trump is on insisted during his presidency. She said pursuing smaller, popular measures such as legalizing dreamers would put Republicans on the spot.

“We are always ready to have a larger discussion, but in the absence of that, we want to move forward with elements that can pass,” she said. “We would like to have bipartisanship. I would love to have this conversation again. But it’s really up to Republicans.

Ms Praeli said she and others who fought for immigration for years believed it was time to ‘put the’ W’s on the board ‘by granting the path to citizenship at most. large number of people possible.

“We’re in a different time,” said Ms. Praeli, who became a citizen in 2015 after being undocumented for years after arriving in the United States as a small child. “We can see that Trump is no longer here, but Trumpism is not gone.”

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Biden administration faces 380,000 immigration backlog

If the ban were lifted, consulates would be asked to resume visa processing. But visa issuance data and recent assessments of the State Department’s consular operations suggest that consulates remain ill-equipped to process visas.

Last month, a State Department official told a federal court that many consulates were understaffed and struggled to schedule the in-person interviews that U.S. visa regulations required of all adult applicants. During the pandemic, consulates were tasked with processing visas for the small subset of immigrants who were not banned – primarily spouses and children of U.S. citizens – but they only worked on a small fraction of these visas, issuing them to about a third. the rate as before the pandemic, according to State Department data.

Immigrant advocates say the Trump administration appears to have caused a deliberate slowdown, and there is evidence that emergency resources have been diverted from visa processing. But State Department officials and former consular officials said consulates faced legitimate challenges caused by the Covid-19 outbreak.

In-person visa interviews, which are used to screen for fraud and security threats, are typically conducted by diplomats working side-by-side in closed offices behind bullet-proof windows. Chris Richardson, a former consular officer who is an immigration lawyer, recalled the consular section in Lagos, Nigeria, as a poorly ventilated space where the coronavirus could easily spread. “A full consular section – I couldn’t even imagine,” he says.

During the pandemic, consulates put public health precautions in place, including physical distance in waiting rooms and fewer interviews at a time. “These necessary safeguards have temporarily reduced visa processing capacity at many of our posts,” said a State Department official speaking on behalf of the department.

When overseas consular services can resume normal operations depends on a number of “local conditions” under the pandemic, the official said, including the number of Covid-19 cases, the capabilities of emergency response, commercial flight availability and local travel restrictions.

“We are working to return to normal staffing levels and pre-pandemic visa workload levels in all of our positions around the world as quickly as possible, while protecting the health and safety of our staff and staff. customers, ”the State Department official said.

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Trump loyalists across homeland security could upset Biden’s immigration policies

These agents may have been heightened in the final days of Mr. Trump’s administration, when Trump loyalists attempted to codify the influence of these unions. The day before Mr Biden’s inauguration, union leaders signed a labor agreement with Kenneth T. Succinelli II, an immigration advocate and the acting deputy secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, which obliges leaders ICE policies to consult with union on policy decisions.

If the deal holds, it could go against Mr Biden’s guidelines to the executing agency, including guidelines that went into effect on Monday requiring ICE officers to focus arrests on violent offenders.

“They won’t be able to get people to change their core beliefs,” Stephen Miller, Mr. Trump’s immigration policy architect, said of many career officials in the Department of Homeland Security. “They will make it painfully clear to politicians what the consequences will be if their advice is not followed.”

The emergence of emboldened resistance within the Biden administration is not limited to homeland security agencies. Pockets of government workers loyal to Mr. Trump and his agenda remain entrenched in other parts of the bureaucracy.

Andrew Veprek, ally of Mr Miller and formerly Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Refugees and Migration, has been replaced by a veteran of President Barack Obama’s administration. But Mr. Veprek, a career Foreign Service officer, has returned to the State Department.

Michael Ellis, a Trump loyalist, was named the National Security Agency’s best lawyer days before Mr Biden took office. He was placed on administrative leave while his appointment is under investigation, but remains an employee of the agency. And in the Department of Justice, there are still career lawyers who have championed many of Mr. Trump’s policies, including family separation at the border.

Mr Biden also faces the politically charged choice of whether or not to dismiss two Inspector General appointed by Mr Trump: Eric Soskin, the Inspector General of the Department of Transportation and Brian D. Miller, a former Trump White House attorney, seized last year to investigate abuse in pandemic spending.

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Video: Mayorkas sworn in as Secretary of Homeland Security

“Raise your right hand. I, Alejandro Mayorkas,” I, Alejandro Mayorkas “,” I solemnly swear “,” I solemnly swear “,” that I will support and defend “,” that I will support and defend “,” the Constitution of United States “,” The Constitution of the United States “,” against all enemies “,” against all enemies “,” foreigners and nationals “,” foreigners and nationals “,” that I will bear true faith and allegiance ” , “That I will bear true faith and allegiance”, “to the same”, “to the same”, “that I take this obligation freely”, “that I take this obligation freely”, “without any mental reservation”, ” without any mental reserve “,” Or the purpose of fraud “,” or the purpose of fraud “,” and that I will perform well and faithfully “” and that I will perform well and faithfully “” the duties of office “” functions that I’m about to step into. “That I’m about to step into.” “So help me God.” “Then help me God.” Congratulations, Secretary. Thank you. Congratulations to the whole family. Thank you. Congratulations.

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Video: Biden signs 3 immigration decrees

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Biden signs 3 immigration decrees

President Biden on Tuesday signed three executive orders aimed at rolling back former President Donald J. Trump’s immigration policies and reuniting migrant families who have been separated at the Mexican border.

Today I will be signing a few decrees to strengthen the immigration system, building on the executive measures I took on day one to protect dreamers and the Muslim ban and to better manage our borders. And that’s what it is. I want to make it clear that there is a lot of discussion with good reason about the number of orders I have signed. I am not making a new law. I eliminate bad policies, especially in the area of ​​immigration. It’s about how America is safer, stronger, more prosperous when we have a fair, orderly and humane legal immigration system. And with the first action today, we will work to undo the moral and national shame of the previous administration which literally and not figuratively snatched children from the arms of their families, mothers and fathers. at the border. And without any plan, absolutely none, to reunite the children who are still in detention and their parents.

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Biden to sign 3 orders that will roll back Trump’s immigration agenda

WASHINGTON – President Biden plans to sign three executive orders on Tuesday aimed at further rolling back his predecessor’s attack on immigration and reuniting migrant children separated from their families at the Mexican border, administration officials said.

In one order, the president will direct the homeland security secretary to lead a task force that will attempt to reunite several hundred families who remain separated under former President Donald J. Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy. , which aimed to discourage migration across the country’s southern border.

With two more orders, Biden will authorize a comprehensive review of Mr. Trump’s immigration policies that limited asylum, halt funding from foreign countries, made it more difficult to obtain green cards or naturalization, and slowed down the process. legal immigration to the United States. officials told reporters on Monday night in a briefing ahead of the official White House announcement on Tuesday.

The Three Orders are helping to deliver on promises made by Mr. Biden during the election campaign to overthrow Mr. Trump’s immigration program. But they also highlight the difficulty the new president faces in disentangling dozens of individual policies and regulations.

Senior administration officials said Monday evening that most of Mr Biden’s guidelines on Tuesday would not bring immediate changes. Rather, they aim to give officials in the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice, and the State Department time to assess how best to reverse the policies.

This will likely disappoint migrant advocates, who are keen to act to help people immediately. One of Mr Biden’s orders, for example, will ask officials to review a Trump-era agenda that forced asylum-seeking migrants from Central America to wait in squalid camps in Mexico.

But the order will not immediately respond to the reality that many of these migrants, including families and children, have been waiting for months in dangerous conditions.

The most important of the three orders aims to remedy the policy of family separation, which was widely condemned after Mr. Trump officially put it in place in the summer of 2018. More than 5,000 families have been separated.

Under Mr. Biden’s order, the federal government will seek to either bring the parents to the United States or return the children to parents living abroad, depending on the wishes of the families and the specifics of the country. immigration law.

Officials said this could include providing visas or other legal means of entry to parents who have been deported to their country of origin. Or it could involve returning children who live in the United States to those countries to be with their parents. They said each case would be looked at separately.

Officials said Alejandro N. Mayorkas, Mr Biden’s candidate for homeland security secretary, will lead the task force. The Senate paved the way last week for a confirmation vote on Mr Mayorkas, and is expected to approve it on Tuesday. The secretary of state and the attorney general will also be on the task force, officials said.

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In the first blow to Biden’s immigration program, a federal judge is blocking a 100-day break on deportations.

In the first court challenge to the Biden administration’s immigration program, a Texas federal judge temporarily blocked a 100-day break on deportations.

The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas on Tuesday issued a 14-day nationwide temporary restraining order sought by the state attorney general that would prevent the policy from being enforced, which was issued by Department of Homeland Security within hours of President Biden’s inauguration. The order will remain in effect until the judge has considered a broader motion for a preliminary injunction.

Judge Drew B. Tipton, who was appointed by former President Donald J. Trump, said in his ruling that the stay of deportations would violate an immigration status provision as well as another law that required agencies to provide a rational explanation for their political decisions.

Immigration law states that people who have received a final deportation order from the United States must be deported within 90 days. The court concluded that the 100-day break violated this requirement and that the mandatory language of immigration law should not be “neutralized by the broad discretion of the federal government.”

The court also ruled that the agency’s memorandum violated a separate law that required agencies to provide a logical and rational reason for their policy changes. The judge ruled that the Homeland Security Department violated the Administrative Procedure Act because it failed to provide adequate justification for the temporary suspension of the evictions.

Immediately after taking office, Mr. Biden began to dismantle some of his predecessor’s initiatives aimed at curbing legal and illegal immigration to the United States. The president issued a series of decrees, including one to repeal a travel ban that targeted Muslim-majority countries.

Immigration advocates have challenged many of Mr. Trump’s policies in Federal Court, and Judge Tipton’s ruling on Tuesday indicated that immigration hawks could also take legal action to thwart Mr. Biden’s initiatives.

“The court order shows President Biden’s uphill battle in trying to reverse the previous administration’s immigration restrictions,” said Stephen Yale-Loehr, immigration lawyer and professor at the Cornell Law School. “A single judge can halt a federal agency’s efforts to review and re-prioritize its immigration law enforcement policies.”

After Tuesday’s ruling, Attorney General Ken Paxton of Texas said on twitter that it was a victory against the left.

“Texas is the FIRST state in the country to take legal action against Administrator Biden. AND WE WON, ”wrote Mr. Paxton, a Republican, who is under federal investigation on charges of corruption and abuse of power raised by former collaborators.

“Within 6 days of Biden’s inauguration, Texas STOPPED its freeze on illegal evictions,” Paxton wrote. “It was a seditious left-wing insurrection. And my team and I stopped it.

In one letter Last week to David Pekoske, Acting Homeland Security Secretary Paxton called the plan “a complete abdication of the Homeland Security Department’s obligation to enforce federal immigration law” which “Would cause serious and irreparable harm to the State of Texas and its citizens. . “

Thousands of immigrants in detention centers have deportation orders that can be executed after they exhaust their legal remedies. Thousands more who live inside the country could be arrested because they have pending deportation orders.

The Biden administration said the break was meant to allow time for an internal review. The moratorium would cover most immigrants who were at risk of deportation, unless they arrived in the United States after November 1, 2020, believed to have committed acts of terrorism or espionage , or that they pose a threat to national security.

“We are confident that as the case progresses it will be clear that this measure was entirely appropriate to order a temporary hiatus to allow the agency to carefully review its policies, procedures and enforcement priorities – while allowing a greater focus on threats to public safety and national security, ”a White House spokesperson said Tuesday. “President Biden remains committed to taking immediate action to reform our immigration system to ensure it upholds American values ​​while ensuring the safety of our communities.