Asylum and Refugee Law Presidential Actions

Biden reinvigorates US refugee programs

President Biden

In stark contrast to the Trump Administration, President Biden issued an executive order on February 4th, 2021, to rebuild the US refugee program. The order makes significant changes and should result in increased refugee admission as well as smoother processing of refugees to the US.

The changes outlined in the order include:

  • Setting a policy of respect and fair treatment for refugees
  • Revoking executive orders 13815 and 13888, which limited refugee admissions and programs, and a presidential memorandum issued on March 6, 2017
  • Ordering the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security to review all agency actions and guidance that were made during the Trump Administration relying on those orders
  • Specifically orders review of the Iraqi and Afghan Special Immigrant Visa programs to address delays and other issues, and to publish the agency’s policies and procedures on the agency websites
  • Permit video and audio teleconferencing for refugee interviews
  • Review and adopt plans to address backlogs

Many of the sections of the order are vague and delegated to the departments and agencies to adopt more specific guidance. It is expected that the Department of State and Department of Homeland Security will quickly adopt policies to implement it now that both secretaries have been sworn in.