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Biden signs immigration orders; White House: 'This is not the time to come to the United States'

Jen Psaki press secretary
Posted at 1:20 PM, Feb 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-02 17:54:04-05

Though President Joe Biden campaigned on the promise of making America a more welcoming place for immigrants, press secretary Jen Psaki issued a warning to Central Americans who are considering coming north to the United States.

"This is not the time to come to the United States," Psaki said during a briefing on Tuesday. "We need the time to put in place an immigration process where people can be treated humanely."

Psaki said the Biden administration is "trying to repair the damage and the horrific actions of the prior administration" when it comes to immigration, particularly when it comes to reuniting children separated from their families.

However, she added that it would take time for the administration to implement changes to immigration policy.

"We want to put into place an immigration process here that is humane, that is moral, that considers applications for refugees, that considers applications for people to come into this country at the border in a way that treats people as human beings. That's going to take some time," Psaki said. "It's not going to happen overnight."

Some of that work resumed on Tuesday, as Biden signed three executive orders on immigration.

"We're going to work to undo the moral and national shame of the previous administration that literally, not figuratively, ripped children from the arms of their families...with no plan, none whatsoever, to reunify," Biden said as he signed the trio of orders.

The first will set up a task force — headed by Biden's nominee for Homeland Security Director, Alejandro Mayorkas — that aims to reunite immigrant children who were separated from their parents at the border under a Trump-era policy.

The second executive order will call for an investigation into causes of migration and will call for an end to a Trump-era policy that forced asylum seekers who entered through the U.S.'s southern border to remain in Mexico.

The third and final order will establish a task force on "New Americans" that will aim to promote immigrant integration and inclusion in the immigration systems.

The executive order signings took place after the confirmation of Biden's nominee for Director of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayoras.

The White House briefing comes a day after Biden met with Republican lawmakers, who proposed a counteroffer to Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID-19 stimulus package. The slimmed-down Republican package totaled about $600 billion.

Psaki called Biden's meeting with Republicans "civil" and "constructive" but said a large gap remains in COVID-19 negotiations. She added that Biden does not plan to lower the price tag of his proposed bill.

Psaki's briefing took place just moments after Biden concluded a call with the Democratic Senate caucus regarding COVID-19 stimulus funding.