On his first day in office, President Joseph Biden sought to end a series of discriminatory travel bans set forth by the previous administration. President Biden focused his initial presidential actions on returning to this country’s tolerant and welcoming principles and values, the traditional American sentiment laid out in the inscription on the Statue of Liberty itself. He did so by revoking one Executive Order and four Presidential Proclamations enacted by former President Trump that had controversially prevented certain individuals from entering the United States. The bans targeted individuals initially from primarily Muslim counties and in later proclamations, from largely African countries. The various bans included restrictions on entry for nationals from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Yemen, Nigeria, Burma/Myanmar, Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Sudan, Tanzania, North Korea and Venezuela.
President Biden’s Proclamation directs embassies and consulates to resume visa processing and clear the backlog created by these orders. The embassies and consulates are required to assess the number of visa applicants who were being considered for a waiver of restrictions and create a plan to adjudicate the pending visa applications. The Proclamation ensures that any individual whose immigrant petition was denied on the basis of these orders may have their application reconsidered and endeavors to ensure a plan where visa applicants are not prejudiced as a result of a previous visa denial due to the suspension or restriction of the proclamations. The Proclamation further mentions that the current administration will analyze screening and vetting procedures for all immigrant and nonimmigrant entry into the United States to determine recommendations to improve the current practices.
President Biden has clearly set a new tone, addressing these issues within hours of taking office. His actions provide hope for a more inclusive and thoughtful immigration system.