Biden’s first 17 presidential orders

Orders deal with Covid-19, the economy, climate change, immigration and racial equality

Much of President Joe Biden's first day in office was spent repealing many of the executive actions that his predecessor used to advance his agenda.

Mr Biden issued 17 executive actions, which included the country's re-entry into the World Health Organisation and Paris climate accord.

They also repealed the travel ban against several Muslim-majority countries, and ended construction on Donald Trump’s unfinished wall on the US-Mexico border.

What Mr Biden’s first official presidential actions entail.

Covid-19 and the economy

Federal mask mandate

This order requires federal employees and contractors to wear masks and keep physical distance in all federal buildings and on federal lands for 100 days to battle the Covid-19 pandemic.

It also puts the Department of Health and Human Services and the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention in charge of engaging with state and local municipalities to implement mask wearing and physical distancing.

Re-enter World Health Organisation

Mr Biden re-entered the World Health Organisation, reversing Mr Trump’s executive action that initiated the US withdrawal shortly after the pandemic began last year.

Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, will lead the US delegation to the World Health Organisation and deliver remarks at its executive board meeting on Thursday.

Restructuring the federal government’s Covid-19 response

This order restructures the federal government's response to the pandemic, creating the position of the Covid-19 response co-ordinator.

Mr Biden’s team said that Jeff Zients, an Obama administration veteran, will fill that position.

The order also re-establishes the National Security Council’s Directorate for Global Health Security and Biodefence, a division the Trump administration eliminated in 2018.

Extension on home eviction and foreclosure moratorium

Mr Biden asked the Centres for Disease and Control Prevention to extend the federal eviction moratorium until March 31, 2021, while calling on Congress to extend it further and provide rental assistance.

Extending freeze on student loan repayments

Mr Biden asked the Department of Education to extend the freeze on federal student loan payments until at least September 30, 2021.

Climate and environment

Rejoin the Paris climate accord

Mr Biden signed the memorandum to rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement, reversing Mr Trump's withdrawal from the accord.

The memorandum was immediately deposited at the UN, paving the way for the US to re-enter the agreement in a month.

Restoring environmental regulations

This order restores environmental regulations eliminated under the Trump administration, especially with regard to climate change.

It includes a re-evaluation of vehicle fuel efficiency and emissions standards, as well as a temporary mortarium on oil and natural gas leasing in the Arctic.

It also re-establishes the Interagency Working Group on the Social Cost of Greenhouse Gases and revokes Mr Trump’s permit to build the Keystone XL pipeline.

Immigration and equality

Federal initiative to advance racial equality

This order is designed to root out systemic racism in federal government programmes and institutions.

It requires every federal agency to deliver an action plan within 200 days to address unequal barriers to opportunity, among other directives.

It also revokes Mr Trump’s 1776 commission, which released a report on Monday that was widely panned by historians for its narrative about slavery.

Lastly, it repeals Mr Trump’s order that limited the ability of federal agencies to conduct diversity and inclusion training.

Restore counting of non-citizens in US census

This order repeals Mr Trump's executive action that excluded non-citizens from the US census, which is used to determine congressional districts in the House of Representatives.

Preserving and fortifying protections for Dreamers

Mr Biden signed an order restoring protection for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals that the Trump administration challenged and tried to remove.

The Daca programme grants work permits and deportation relief to more than 640,000 undocumented immigrants brought to the US as children.

The new president “is committed to preserving and fortifying Daca", the White House said.

His presidential memorandum directs the secretary of homeland security, in consultation with the attorney general, to take all appropriate action under the law to protect Daca.

It also calls on Congress “to enact legislation providing permanent status and a path to citizenship for people who came to this country as children and have lived, worked and contributed to our country for many years".

Reversing the Muslim ban 

Mr Biden fulfilled a pledge he made early in the campaign by revoking visa restrictions that Mr Trump put in place on 13 Muslim-majority countries.

The restrictions were described by Mr Trump as the “Muslim ban” and came in an executive order from the former president shortly after he took office in January 2017.

The ban was rewritten after legal challenges and its latest format was upheld by the Supreme Court in 2018.

But Mr Biden took executive action on Wednesday, ending “a policy rooted in religious animus and xenophobia”, the White House said.

“It repeals Proclamations 9645 and 9983, which restrict entry into the United States from primarily Muslim and African countries, and instructs the State Department to restart visa processing for affected countries and to swiftly develop a proposal to restore fairness and remedy the harms caused by the bans, especially for individuals stuck in the waiver process and those who had immigrant visas denied,” the White House said.

But the order also provides for “strengthening of screening and vetting for travellers by enhancing information sharing with foreign governments and capacity building with our partners, and directs reviews of other Trump administration 'extreme vetting' practices”.

Repeal of Trump executive order on interior enforcement

This revokes an executive order from 2017 that mandated extreme immigration enforcement and made it a priority to deport 10.5 million undocumented people in the US.

"This revocation will allow the Department of Homeland Security and other agencies to set civil immigration enforcement policies that best protect the American people and are in line with our values and priorities,” the White House said.

Stop border wall construction

Mr Biden signed an executive action that ended the 2018 national emergency set by Mr Trump on the US-Mexico border to divert billions of dollars to build a wall.

The emergency and construction of the wall are suspended by Mr Biden's order.

Mr Trump ran his campaign on the promise to build a wall but said then that “Mexico would pay for it".

The US Customs and Border Protection agency estimated that the American government had allocated $15 billion for more than 1,120 kilometres of the wall.

“Bipartisan majorities in Congress refused in 2019 to fund President Trump’s plans for a massive wall along our southern border, even after he shut down the government over this issue," the Biden White House said.

"He then wastefully diverted billions of dollars to that construction."

With the proclamation, Mr Biden declares “an immediate termination of the national emergency declaration that was used as a pretext to justify some of the funding diversions for the wall ... directs an immediate pause in wall construction projects to allow a close review of the legality of the funding and contracting methods used".

Deferred enforced departure for Liberians

Another immigration order signed by Mr Biden was “to extend until June 30, 2022 the long-standing deferred enforced departure designation for Liberians who have been in the United States for many years".

Liberia is the only country with DED, which covers about 10,000 people. Mr Trump had sought to wind down the programme and end it by spring 2020.

The memorandum “directs the secretary of homeland security to ensure that Citizen Immigration Services facilitates ease of application and timely adjudication for Liberians applying for residency by the Liberian Relief and Fairness Act".

Preventing and combating discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation

This order signed by Mr Biden offers legal protection for all Americans, regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation.

“The Biden-Harris administration will prevent and combat discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation,” the White House said.

It builds on the US Supreme Court’s decision in Bostock v Clayton County (2020) to ensure the federal government interprets Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as prohibiting workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

“This order will also direct agencies to take all lawful steps to make sure that federal anti-discrimination statutes that cover sex discrimination prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, protecting the rights of LGBTQ+ persons.”

Ethics and regulations

Executive branch personnel ethics executive order

This order mandates every appointee in the executive branch in the Biden administration and onwards to sign an ethics pledge.

It is designed to “ensure that executive branch employees act in the interest of the American people and not for personal gain", and commits “federal employees to uphold the independence of the Department of Justice".

Mr Trump eased these rules while in office. On Tuesday, he revoked an executive order that banned executive branch employees from lobbying the agency in which they served until five years after leaving government.

Regulatory process executive order and presidential memorandum

This order by Mr Biden restores regulatory actions by the US government curbed by Mr Trump.

It directs the director of the Office of Management and Budget “to develop recommendations for improving and modernising regulatory review".

“These recommendations will create a process to advance regulations that promote public health and safety, economic growth, social welfare, racial justice, environmental stewardship, human dignity, equity and the interests of future generations,” the Biden White House said.

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