United States President, Joe Biden, has signed a string of executive orders, memorandums and directives that will reverse some of his predecessor Donald Trump’s most divisive policies, including rescinding the “Muslim ban,” rejoining the Paris climate accord, and ending the process to withdraw from the World Health Organization (WHO).
Hours after his inauguration at the US Capitol on Wednesday, Biden signed 15 executive actions that his team earlier said aimed to “reverse the gravest damages of the Trump administration.”
Biden told reporters in the Oval Office that there was “no time to waste.”
Some of the executive actions I’m going to be signing today are going to help change the course of the COVID crisis, we’re going to combat climate change in a way that we haven’t done so far and advance racial equity and support other underserved communities,” he said, as reported by the Reuters news agency.
Biden’s first big challenge as he enters the White House will be tackling the surging COVID-19 pandemic, which has killed more than 400,000 people across the country to date.
To that effect, Biden signed an order to institute a 100-day mask mandate across the US and appoint a COVID-19 coordinator to manage a national response to the pandemic.
He has also announced that the US would remain a member of the WHO, and that Dr Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, would attend the ongoing WHO Executive Board meeting at the head of the US delegation.
Meanwhile, Biden rescinded the “Muslim ban,” an executive order Trump signed in 2017 that banned travellers from seven Muslim-majority nations from entering the US.
The ban was changed several times amid legal challenges and ultimately upheld by the US Supreme Court in 2018.
Biden’s White House Press Secretary, Jen Psaki, said during a briefing:
The president put an end to the Muslim ban – a policy rooted in religious animus and xenophobia.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations welcomed the decision as “an important first step toward undoing the anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant policies of the previous administration.”
The group’s executive director, Nihad Awad, said in a statement:
It is an important fulfilment of a campaign pledge to the Muslim community and its allies.
In the meantime, the US will once again become a party to the Paris Agreement, Biden also announced.
The move to rejoin the international treaty on climate change is expected to take effect 30 days after it is deposited with the UN, Biden’s team said earlier on Wednesday.
In November, the US became the first country in the world to withdraw from the treaty – a move that fueled tensions between Washington and its allies in Europe and drew a widespread rebuke from environmental and human rights groups.