Since being sworn in as the 46th president, Joe Biden has signed several executive orders. Of particular note to New York State Bar Association members are actions on immigration, student loans, the environment and combatting discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation.
Immigration – DACA:
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) guidance, issued during the Obama Administration, deferred the removal of certain undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children, obeyed the law and stayed in school or enlisted in the military. DACA and associated regulations permit eligible individuals who pass a background check to request temporary relief from removal and to apply for temporary work permits. President Biden called on the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Attorney General, to take all appropriate actions consistent with applicable law, to preserve and fortify DACA. NYSBA applauded the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Department of Homeland Security v. Regents of the University of California upholding the legality of DACA. This case provides for the extension of legal protections against deportation for hundreds of thousands of young immigrants across the nation.
Revision of Civil Immigration Enforcement Policies and Priorities:
By executive order, the President stated the policy of his administration, “is to protect national and border security, address the humanitarian challenges at the southern border, and ensure public health and safety.” He goes on to emphasize the importance of adhering, “to due process of law as we safeguard the dignity and well-being of all families and communities.” A commitment to the rule of law is a cornerstone of NYSBA’s mission and core values. NYSBA has been, and will continue to be, a strong advocate of this principle.
Pausing Federal Student Loan Payments:
President Biden directed the acting secretary of education to extend the pause on federal student loan payments through October 2021. The student loan crisis has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Last year, Congress took steps to suspend certain student loan payments, which President Trump then extended. If President Biden had not taken this action on his first day, more than 40 million Americans, mostly people under 35 years of age, would have been hit with payments immediately. NYSBA continues to advocate for expanded student loan relief and targeted monetary relief in cases of economic hardship.
Biden has long been an outspoken advocate of returning the U.S. to the Paris Accord. Signed by nearly every nation on Earth in 2015, the accord creates an international framework for addressing greenhouse gas emissions to limit the rise in global temperatures along with support for developing nations and transparent and robust climate goals. In one of his first actions as President, Trump announced his intention to remove the U.S. from this agreement. In one of Biden’s first acts as President, he accepted the Paris Agreement of December 12, 2015 on behalf of the U.S.
In response to Trump’s action to remove the U.S. from the accord, then-NYSBA President Sharon Stern Gerstman wrote to President Trump to register the association’s objection to his decision to have the U.S. withdraw from the monumental agreement. Citing the expertise of NYSBA membership in the Environmental and Energy Law Section, she wrote that we “are acutely aware that climate change has evolved from an issue that initially merited further study to an outright crisis demanding prompt and effective action.”
EO on Preventing and Combating Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity or Sexual Orientation:
Recognizing that every person should be afforded respect and dignity, live without fear, and receive equal treatment under the law no matter their gender identity or sexual orientation, President Biden announced it will be the policy of his administration to prevent and combat discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation. The administration will also fully enforce Title VII and other laws that prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation. NYSBA has long supported full equality for all. The newly-created NYSBA LGBTQ Section will further the work the association does to promote, “equality in the law for LGBTQ people; eliminate discrimination against LGBTQ attorneys and litigants; promote equality of opportunity for, and increase the visibility of, contributions made by LGBTQ attorneys; and promote diversity in the bench by inclusion of all minorities, including LGBTQ people.”
The full text of these executive actions and others can be found at: https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/