Words by Georgia Keetch

For President Joe Biden there is no time like the present; in just one full day after being inaugurated as President of the United States, he signed 17 executive orders, nine of which are direct reversals of policies enacted by Donald Trump.

The contrasts of Biden’s first day in office to Trump, who signed 24 executive actions in his first 100 days, are numerous. After Trump took the presidential oath, he pledged to build a wall against the southern border of the U.S., eliminate gun-free zones in schools, repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, and remove federal restrictions on energy protection, among other orders that Biden’s administration seeks to reverse.

Biden has a lot of changes in store. Pledging his commitment to fighting the Covid-19 pandemic, revising immigration policies, and taking the threat of climate change seriously are just a few of the many executive orders that Biden has signed in just one day as President. Though, Biden, a former Senator, knows there’s only so much he can do alone and this is just the beginning. 

Speaking from the oval office he said that “There’s a long way to go [..] These are just executive actions. They are important, but we’re going to need legislation for a lot of the things we’re going to do.” 

President Biden got straight to work by mandating masks in airports and on many planes, trains, ships and intercity buses. His action comes on the heels of a similar order the day before— his first as president — requiring masks on federal property. Biden’s choice of masks as a leading item on his agenda illustrates a possible early win in tackling the virus and the challenges he faces in trying to turn around the nation’s response to the coronavirus and reduce its devastating death toll. It’s also a break from the Trump administration’s handling of the issue. Biden also announced that the new position of Covid-19 Response Coordinator will soon be filled. This person will directly report to Biden and be in charge of producing and distributing the Covid-19 vaccine.

 Whilst breaking away from his predecessor, President Biden quickly stopped the construction of the Border wall via an Executive order. This terminated the national emergency declaration that was used to fund the construction of the border wall between the United States and Mexico.

President Biden has been a complete contrast in more ways than just masks and walls to his predecessor. Last July, Trump announced plans to reverse the United State’s involvement with and funding of the World Health Organization. The news came as a shock to those who saw the government’s mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic (and the ways in which Trump repeatedly downplayed the danger of the virus). Dr. Anthony Fauci announced on Wednesday morning that the U.S. will continue to support the WHO. Dr. Fauci has also been named the head of delegation to the WHO.  In the spirit of unity, President Biden also decide to re-join the Paris Climate Accord that was signed in 2016. 

Whilst focused on Environmental policy, Biden has revoked the permit for work on the 2,687-mile oil pipeline that runs between Canada and the United States and is owned by TC Energy and the Government of Alberta. For over a decade, citizens have protested the existence of the pipeline for the threats it poses to the climate, drinking water, and public health, and in 2015 it was vetoed by the Obama administration. Biden is also looking to reverse over 100 of Trump’s executive actions concerning the environment. 

When looking deeper into the country’s issues, the new president has made some dramatic changes to foreign policy. Biden reversed the travel ban that saw The Trump administration place restrictions on entry into the United States for passport holders from primarily Muslim countries and African countries. Biden has revoked Trump’s expansion of immigration enforcement in the U.S. by executive order. He also extended a deferral of deportations for Liberians who may need to use the U.S. as a safe haven until 30 June , 2022. “We must also adhere to due process of law as we safeguard the dignity and well-being of all families and communities,” he wrote. “My Administration will reset the policies and practices for enforcing civil immigration laws to align enforcement with these values and priorities.”

Picture Credit: Matt Johnson

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