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St. Louis Advocacy Groups Praise President Biden's Executive Order To End Travel Ban

Unauthorized immigrants in rural areas who seek legal representation can often face roadblocks when trying to find credible lawyers.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio
President Joe Biden has signed an executive order to end the Trump administration’s travel ban on Muslim-majority and African countries, along with several other measures.

On his first day in office, President Joe Biden has already begun to undo the Trump administration’s most strident anti-immigrant executive orders and policies.

In the first of many executive actions, Biden signed an executive order to end the Trump administration’s so-called Muslim ban. The travel ban put restrictions on people from Muslim-majority and African countries entering the U.S.

“All Muslims are happy to see the end of this travel ban,” said Marwan Hameed, the associate executive director of CAIR-Missouri. “They’re very hopeful to see their loved ones very soon in the United States, either to visit them or to reunite as a family.”

The president also signed a proclamation stopping construction of the border wall along Mexico; issued an executive order revoking the Trump administration’s move to keep non-citizens from being counted in the census; and took action to bolster the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

Anna Crosslin, president and CEO of the International Institute of St. Louis, said many of the DACA recipients lived in fear until the Obama administration put the program in place.

But in the years since, the Trump administration made several attempts to dismantle the program that protects more than 700,000 recipients known as “Dreamers.” Crosslin said they found themselves in “limbo” and were often a political bargaining chip.

“There have been several times when the [Trump] administration had offered to give DACA recipients a legal status in exchange for significant changes and cuts to the family reunification immigration program,” she said.

Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court blocked an effort by the Trump administration to end the program.

While Biden had promised to shift policy toward immigrants along the campaign trail, many were heartened to see the president take action on his first day in office. Still, they pointed out that much damage has been done.

Hameed said when the travel ban was put in place in 2017, many Muslims suffered, with families waiting years to be reunited with loved ones.

“There are a lot of husbands and wives who are waiting to join their loved ones from these specific countries where the ban affected these countries,” he said. “And they were waiting and waiting for a long time, for years actually, without having any results.”

Crosslin said the ban did not just affect new arrivals to the community, but also Somalis and Syrians who were here and waiting for relatives to join them in the U.S. An end to the travel ban “heightens their sense of belonging,” Crosslin said.

She cautioned that it will still be complex to be reunified with family overseas.

“Family members that might have been ready three years ago will have to start over in the process, because their time-limited vetting is no longer valid,” she said.

Hameed hailed the Biden administration’s prioritization of immigration policies but said that more needs to be done to remove discrimination from the immigration system, something he saw firsthand in his previous work at an immigration law firm.

“The cases are supposed to be processed in a certain amount of days, but since the beneficiary of that immigration case being from a Muslim majority country, that case will sit on the shelf for a very long time,” he said.

Hameed said going forward, he hopes there will be an open line of communication between the Biden administration and community leaders regarding immigration policies.

Follow Marissanne on Twitter: @Marissanne2011

Marissanne is the afternoon newscaster at St. Louis Public Radio.

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