According to recent reports, President-elect Joe Biden will issue decrees to reverse President Donald Trump’s travel bans and re-join the Paris climate accord on his first day.
Joe Biden is also expected to focus on reuniting families separated at the US-Mexico border, and to issue mandates on Covid-19 and mask-wearing.
He will be inaugurated on January 20.
All 50 states are on high alert for possible violence in the run-up to the inauguration ceremony, with National Guard troops deployed in their thousands to guard Washington DC.
According to a memo seen by media, in the hours after Joe Biden sets foot in the White House, he will embark on a blitz of executive actions designed to signal a clean break from his predecessor’s administration.
Among the orders planned soon after taking office are:
Returning to the Paris climate change agreement- the global pact on cutting carbon emissions
Repealing the controversial travel ban on mostly Muslim-majority countries
Mandating the wearing of masks on federal property and when travelling interstate
An extension to nationwide restrictions on evictions and foreclosures due to the pandemic
The executive orders are just one part of his ambitious plan for his first 10 days in office, according the memo.
Joe Biden is also expected to send a major new immigration bill to Congress, as well as focusing on passing a $1.9 trillion stimulus plan to help the country’s economy recover from coronavirus.
The president-elect has also said his administration will aim to deliver 100 million Covid-19 jabs in his first 100 days in office – describing the rollout so far as a “dismal failure”.
Incoming White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain wrote in the memo: “President-elect Biden will take action – not just to reverse the gravest damages of the Trump administration – but also to start moving our country forward.”
Joe Biden is taking over a country in the midst of an unprecedented pandemic. Daily deaths from Covid-19 are in their thousands and almost 400,000 have lost their lives.
On top of the virus raging, the country is reeling from recent political violence.
The theme for Joe Biden’s inauguration will be “America United”, with the president-elect focusing on healing political divisions. VP Mike Pence is expected to attend the ceremony, though President Trump has said he will not.
Joe Biden will be sworn in exactly two weeks after the violent riots at the Capitol on January 6 which aimed to thwart his election victory.
President Donald Trump has announced travel
restrictions on 26 European countries in a bid to combat the spread of the
The travel ban applies to travelers from countries which are members of the
Schengen border-free travel area.
The UK, Ireland and other non-Schengen countries (e.g. Bulgaria, Croatia and
Romania) are unaffected. US citizens are also exempt.
The European Union condemned the measures, which it said were taken
“unilaterally and without consultation”.
The new rules go into effect on March 13 at midnight EDT and mark a major
escalation from President Trump, who has been accused of inaction over
There are 1,135 confirmed cases of the virus across the US, with 38 deaths
President Trump said: “This is
the most aggressive and comprehensive effort to confront a foreign virus in
Justifying the travel restrictions, Donald Trump accused the EU of failing
to take “the same precautions” as the US in fighting the virus.
The president’s speech said all travel from Europe would be suspended but a
presidential proclamation later said it would only apply to anyone who had been
in the EU’s Schengen border-free area in the 14 days before their arrival in
President Trump also said the suspension would also apply to cargo coming
from Europe into the US. He later tweeted to say that trade would “in no
way be affected”.
The speech included plans to provide billions of dollars in loans to small
businesses and the president urged Congress to free up more funds.
He said for most Americans the risk was “very, very low” adding
“no nation is more prepared or more resilient than the United
In its response, the EU said the coronavirus was “a global crisis, not
limited to any continent and it requires cooperation rather than unilateral
European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen and European Council
President Charles Michel said in a statement: “The EU disapproves of the fact that the US decision to impose a
travel ban was taken unilaterally and without consultation.”
Senior Democrats said it was “alarming” that President Trump did
not address a shortage of coronavirus testing kits in the US.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in
a statement: “The best way to help
keep the American people safe and ensure their economic security is for the
president to focus on fighting the spread of the coronavirus itself.”
On the travel ban, Lawrence Gostin, a public health expert at Georgetown
University, tweeted: “Most of Europe
is as safe as US. This will have no impact on US … germs don’t respect
Concern over the coronavirus outbreak rose after a number of new cases were
confirmed earlier this month.
Containment efforts have begun in earnest. Troops have been deployed to New
Rochelle, just north of NYC, where one outbreak is believed to have originated.
The National Guard will deliver food to some individuals who have been told
to self-isolate there.
The governor of Washington state has
also banned large gatherings in several counties. The north-western state is
the focal point of the outbreak in the US, accounting for 24 of at least 38
deaths across the country.
In an unprecedented move, the NBA
announced that it would suspend the season after the March 11 games. The
decision came after one player for the Utah Jazz tested positive for the virus.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious
Diseases, told Congress that the outbreak is “going to get worse”,
and that depended on the ability to contain those infected.
High medical costs make the virus particularly problematic – many Americans
avoid visiting their doctor because of unaffordable charges. A lack of paid
sick leave is another concern, as are fears about the number of available
Vice-President Mike Pence, who is in charge of the task force co-ordinating the response to the crisis, has said that “any American can be tested, no restrictions, subject to doctor’s orders”, and that insurers had promised to offset the charges.
The travel ban, which the Supreme Court allowed to take effect in December 2017, has been widely criticized by refugee and human rights groups.
Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the opinion, which said the travel ban was “squarely within the scope of Presidential authority”.
He also rejected arguments that the ban discriminated against Muslims.
He wrote: “The Proclamation is expressly premised on legitimate purposes: preventing entry of nationals who cannot be adequately vetted and inducing other nations to improve their practices.
“The text says nothing about religion.”
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg joined Justice Sonia Sotomayor in the dissenting opinion, which argues the court failed to uphold the religious liberty guaranteed by the first amendment of the US constitution.
Justice Sonya Sotomayor wrote: “It leaves undisturbed a policy first advertised openly and unequivocally as a ‘total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States’ because the policy now masquerades behind a facade of national-security concerns.”
The dissent also states that “a reasonable observer would conclude that [the ban] was motivated by anti-Muslim animus”.
The ban prevents most immigrants, refugees and visa holders from five Muslim-majority countries – Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen – as well as North Korea and Venezuela from entering the US.
However, the restrictions on North Korea and Venezuela were not part of the legal challenge.
The Supreme Court noted it expects those courts to reach decisions “with appropriate dispatch”.
The case will eventually end up back in the Supreme Court.
The December 4 decision suggests America’s top judicial body may ultimately rule in favor of the administration, say legal analysts.
White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said the White House was “not surprised” by the Supreme Court’s decision.
US Attorney General Jeff Sessions called the ruling “a substantial victory for the safety and security of the American people”.
However, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said President Trump’s re-tweeting of British far-right videos last week showed his discrimination against Islam.
Donald Trump insisted his ban was necessary for national security and pointed to terrorist attacks in Paris, London, Brussels and Berlin as evidence.
However, in striking it down, federal judges have cited President Trump’s campaign description of his policy as a “Muslim ban” and his call for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States”.
Lower courts across the US have said President Trump’s policy violated the first amendment of the US constitution covering freedom of religion.
Those who already hold valid visas are not affected. Dual nationals who travel on their passport from the unaffected country will also be allowed entry.
The rules come into effect at 20:00 Washington time.
However, lawyers both for and against the ban have warned that the new restrictions – which will remain in place until the Supreme Court issues a final ruling – could open the door to a flood of legal challenges.
However, the Supreme Court will not be reviewing the case until October – which will mean the 90-day period will be largely done.
The court also approved the 120-day ban on refugees entering the US, allowing the government to bar entry to refugee claimants who do not have any “bona fide relationship” with an American individual or entity.
The judge turned his earlier temporary restraining order into a preliminary injunction that would have a more lasting effect.
President Trump’s executive order on March 6 would have placed a 90-day ban on people from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen and a 120-day ban on refugees.
An earlier version of the order, issued in January, sparked confusion and protests, and was blocked by a judge in Seattle.
Other courts across the US have issued different rulings on President Trump’s revised ban, with a judge in Maryland halting a part of the ban earlier this month.
Donald Trump has complained of “unprecedented judicial overreach”, pledging to take the case “as far as it needs to go”.
An appeal against the Hawaii decision would be expected to go next to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals – the same court which in February said it would not block a ruling by a Seattle court to halt the original travel ban.
Under the revised order, citizens of six countries on the original January 27 order – Iran, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen – would once more be subject to a 90-day travel ban.
President Donald Trump is considering a new executive order to ban citizens of certain countries from traveling to the US after his initial attempt was overturned in the courts.
He told reporters on Air Force One that a “brand new order” could be issued as early as February 13 or 14.
The president made the announcement after an appeals court in San Francisco upheld a court ruling to suspend his original order.
The executive order barred entry from citizens from seven mainly Muslim countries.
It is unclear what a new US immigration order might look like.
Donald Trump said that it would change “very little”, but he did not provide details of any new ban under consideration.
Image source Getty Images
Despite his suggestion on February 10, President Trump’s administration may still pursue its case in the courts over the original order, which was halted a week ago by a Seattle judge.
“We’ll win that battle,” he told reporters.
Donald Trump added: “The unfortunate part is it takes time. We’ll win that battle. But we also have a lot of other options, including just filing a brand new order.”
An unnamed judge from the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals, which on February 9 upheld the stay on the original order, has called on all 25 judges of that court to vote on whether to hear the appeal again.
Technically known as an en banc review, a second hearing of the case would involve an 11-judge panel, rather than the three who initially heard the appeal.
Donald Trump’s travel ban, which was hastily unveiled at the end of his first week in office, caused chaos at US airports and sparked protests across the country.
On February 9, the appeals court said the administration failed to offer “any evidence” to justify the ban, which the president said was necessary to keep the US safe from terror attacks.
However, Donald Trump insisted that the executive order was crucial for national security and promised to take action “very rapidly” to introduce “additional security” steps in the wake of the court’s decision.
The president spoke as Virginia state lawyers argued in court that his policy “resulted from animus toward Muslims”.
Their challenge focuses on the travel restrictions imposed by the ban, rather than the four-month suspension of refugee admissions.
Lawyers for the US government in Virginia wrote that “judicial second-guessing” amounted to “an impermissible intrusion” on Donald Trump’s constitutional authority.
The appeals court ruling means that visa holders from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen can continue to enter the US, and refugees from around the world, who were also subject to a temporary ban, are no longer blocked either.
However, the ruling does not affect one part of Donald Trump’s controversial executive order: a cap of 50,000 refugees to be admitted in the current fiscal year, down from the ceiling of 110,000 established under President Barack Obama.
Thirty more tech companies have signed a brief opposing President Donald Trump’s travel ban, bringing the total number involved to 127.
Tesla, Adobe, HP and Evernote are among the new signatories.
They join 97 other companies which have filed a legal document stating the ban “inflicts significant harm” on their businesses and is unconstitutional.
The amicus brief allows parties not directly involved in a case but who feel affected by it, to give a view.
It was filed in Washington on February 5 and also includes Apple, Facebook and Microsoft as signatories.
Amazon is not part of the amicus brief but it is a witness in the original lawsuit brought by the Washington state Attorney General.
Image source Getty Images
President Trump’s executive order halted the entire US refugee program for 120 days, indefinitely banned Syrian refugees and suspended permission to enter the US for all nationals from seven Muslim-majority countries.
There is currently a nationwide temporary restraining order in place, which was issued on February 3 by a federal judge in Washington.
This means visa holders from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen will be allowed to enter the US until the full case has been heard.
However, Donald Trump has said he will fight the order as it puts national security at risk.
The tech group’s brief reads: “Of course, the federal government can and should implement targeted, appropriate adjustments to the nation’s immigration system to enhance the nation’s security.
“But a broad, open-ended ban – together with an indication that the ban could be expanded to other countries without notice – does not fit the goal of making the country more secure. Instead, it will undermine American interests.”
The DoJ has defended President Donald Trump’s immigration ban and urged an appeals court to reinstate it in the interests of national security.
In a 15-page brief it argued it was a “lawful exercise of the president’s authority” and not a ban on Muslims.
President Trump’s executive order temporarily banned entry for all refugees and visitors from seven mainly Muslim countries.
A hearing has been set for today on whether to allow or reject the ban.
The filing was made to the San Francisco-based 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals in response to the halting of Donald Trump’s order on February 3 by a federal judge in Washington state.
Image source Flickr
The judge had ruled the ban was unconstitutional and harmful to the state’s interests.
As a result, people from the seven countries – Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen – with valid visas were able to travel to the US again.
The brief filed on February 6 said the Washington court had “erred in entering an injunction barring enforcement of the order”.
“But even if some relief were appropriate, the court’s sweeping nationwide injunction is vastly overbroad,” the DoJ added.
President Trump’s executive order issued on January 25 fulfilled his campaign promise to tighten restrictions on arrivals to the US.
It caused confusion at US and foreign airports when it came into force, and was widely condemned, although polls suggest that US public opinion is sharply divided on the policy.
The states of Washington and Minnesota have argued that as well as being unconstitutional, the travel ban is harmful to their residents, businesses and universities.
Attorneys general in 16 states have signed a letter condemning the ban, and lawsuits have been launched in 14 states.
Former secretaries of state John Kerry and Madeleine Albright and former CIA director Leon Panetta have joined others in drafting a letter which describes the travel ban as ineffective, dangerous and counterproductive.
Lawyers for tech giants including Apple and Google have also lodged arguments with the court, saying that the travel ban would harm their companies by making it more difficult to recruit employees.
President Donald Trump is standing firm over his ban on immigration from seven countries despite court rulings and mass protests against it.
In a statement, the president said visas would once again be issued once “the most secure policies” were in place, and denied it was a Muslim ban.
The move has been widely condemned.
Meanwhile, 16 state attorneys general have said the order is unconstitutional. Several federal judges have temporarily halted the deportation of visa holders.
Donald Trump’s executive order, signed on January 27, halted the entire US refugee program for 120 days, indefinitely banned Syrian refugees, and suspended all nationals from seven Muslim-majority countries.
Those who were already mid-flight were detained on arrival – even if they held valid US visas or other immigration permits. It is not known how many others were turned away at airports overseas as they tried to board flights to the US.
Thousands gathered at airports around the country to protest on January 28, including lawyers who offered their services for free to those affected.
Image source Flickr
Further demonstrations were held on January 29, including protests outside the White House and Trump Tower in New York.
As well as the ban on all refugees, travelers who have nationality or dual nationality of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen are not permitted to enter the United States for 90 days, or be issued an immigrant or non-immigrant visa.
This includes those who share dual nationality with allied countries, although Canada has been told its dual nationals are not affected.
White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus said US green-card holders – legal residents – would also not be affected, but some have been detained since the order came into effect.
President Trump tweeted early on January 29 that the US needed “extreme vetting, NOW” but later, in a statement, tried to offer more reassuring words, saying: “This is not about religion – this is about terror and keeping our country safe.
“We will again be issuing visas to all countries once we are sure we have reviewed and implemented the most secure policies over the next 90 days.”
Reince Priebus rejected criticism that the implementation of the order had been chaotic, and said only 109 people, out of 325,000 travelling, had been detained and “most of those people were moved out”.
He told reporters on January 29: “We’ve got a couple of dozen more that remain and I would suspect that as long as they’re not awful people that they will move through before another half a day today.”
However, they have failed to allay concern among some in their Republican party. Senator John McCain said the order would “probably, in some areas, give ISIS some more propaganda”, while Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said it was important to remember that “some of our best sources in the war against radical Islamic terrorism are Muslims”.
Democratic Senate Majority leader Chuck Schumer said the US now appeared “less humanitarian, less safe, less American” and said the Democrats would introduce legislation to overturn it.
In a joint statement, 16 attorneys general, from states including California, New York and Pennsylvania, said they would “use all of the tools of our offices to fight this unconstitutional order” and, until it was struck down, would “work to ensure that as few people as possible suffer from the chaotic situation that it has created”.
Yesterday, federal Judge Ann Donnelly, in New York, ruled against the removal from the US of people with approved refugee applications, valid visas, and “other individuals… legally authorized to enter the United States”.
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