Clarkston reacts to Biden’s immigration executive orders

FILE PHOTO: Young people hold signs during a drive-in rally for Georgia Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate Raphael Warnock at the Clarkston First Baptist Church on Dec. 16, 2020. Photo by Dean Hesse.

Clarkston, GA – President Joe Biden has moved quickly with signing executive orders during his first weeks in the Oval Office. On Jan. 20, after the inauguration ceremony Biden signed 17 executive orders, memorandums and proclamations.

These actions were aimed to undo former President Donald Trump’s policies on the coronavirus pandemic, immigration, climate change, racial and LGBT equality, the economy and government accountability, according to the New York Times.

One executive order strengthened the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program which protects immigrants brought to the United States as children from deportation. Trump sought for years to end DACA. The order also calls on Congress to pass legislation providing permanent status and a path to citizenship for those immigrants, the New York Times reported.

Another order Biden ended the travel ban to the U.S. from several predominantly Muslng and African countries. This action by Trump to limit immigration is often called the Muslim ban. Biden directed the U.S. State Department to begin visa processing again for people from the affected countries within the next 45 days, USA Today reported.

Biden additionally stopped construction of Trump’s border wall with Mexico. The order includes an “immediate termination” of the national emergency declaration that allowed the Trump administration to redirect billions of dollars to the wall. It says the Biden administration will begin “a close review” of the legality of the effort to divert federal money to fund the wall, the New York Times stated.

Others state that undocumented immigrants will now be included in the U.S. census count and revokes a 2017 Trump executive order that cracked down on communities shielding undocumented immigrants from deportation, according to USA Today.

Some officials and organizations in Clarkston are happy to see these executive orders and Biden’s stance on immigration.

The city of Clarkston is noted for its diversity and the city’s website says it’s the most diverse square mile in America. About half of the residents are foreign born and come from over 50 countries across six continents, according to the city website.

Clarkston Mayor Beverly Burks was excited to see these executive orders and said it’s wonderful to see the travel ban lifted, DACA preserved and a path to citizenship.

She noted that there is a sizable Muslim population in Clarkston so it’s important for any impacted residents to be able to be reunited with their families.

Clarkston City Manager Robin Gomez said the city continues to be a welcoming and friendly home to thousands of refugees and immigrants.

“The city supports federal, state, and local policies and regulations supporting equality, inclusivity, and the ability of all residents to participate and succeed in a free, democratic, and entrepreneurial society,” Gomez said. “Additionally, we look forward to the new federal administration’s directives supporting immigrants and refugees that incorporate provisions to eventual citizenship.”

Friends of Refugees, an organization in Clarkston, shared a statement with Decaturish in support of the executive order. The organization is excited to see the policy changes that support a welcoming and supportive environment for refugees and immigrants.

Clarkston has a long history of welcoming refugees, with more than 40,000 resettled in the area over the last 35 years, the statement says.

“We understand the Biden Administration will propose a high ceiling for the number of refugee arrivals for 2021, but it will take some time to build back up to the historic levels of refugee resettlement we’ve seen in Clarkston,” the organization said.

“Resettlement infrastructure has to be rebuilt – from overseas processing all the way through to local resettlement.  Our local resettlement agencies, community partners, and Clarkston neighbors are all eager to see more refugees come to Georgia,” the statement went on to say.

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