President Joe Biden to sign more than a dozen executive orders on first day in office: Here’s what they’ll do

Video: President Joe Biden to sign more than a dozen executive orders on first day in office: Here’s what they’ll do

WASHINGTON, D.C. — In his first official acts as president, President Joe Biden is signing executives orders on a broad range of issues, from the coronavirus pandemic to climate change and immigration, in order to fulfill campaign promises.

Here are the highlights of actions Biden is taking Wednesday:

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THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

MASK REQUIREMENT: Biden is requiring the use of masks and social distancing in all federal buildings, on federal lands and by federal employees and contractors. Consistently masking up is a practice that science has shown to be effective in preventing the spread of the coronavirus, particularly when social distancing is difficult to maintain.

WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION: Biden also is directing the government to rejoin the World Health Organization, which former President Donald Trump withdrew from earlier this year after accusing it of incompetence and bowing to Chinese pressure over the coronavirus.

VIDEO: President Joe Biden to sign more than a dozen executive orders on first day in office: Here’s what they’ll do

CLIMATE

PARIS CLIMATE ACCORD: Biden will sign an executive order to rejoin the Paris climate accord, fulfilling a campaign pledge to get back into the global climate pact on Day One. Trump, a supporter of oil, gas and coal, had made a first priority of pulling out of global efforts to cut climate-damaging fossil fuel emissions.

It will take 30 days for the U.S. to officially be back in.

REVIEWING TRUMP ROLLBACKS: Biden’s Day One plans also include a temporary moratorium on new Trump administration oil and gas leasing in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, moving to revoke a presidential permit for the Keystone XL oil and gas pipeline and reviewing a Trump administration freeze on vehicle mileage and emissions standards.

Biden also is setting in motion an evaluation of another Trump move that cut boundaries and protections for some national monuments.

Agencies will be directed to consider the impact of climate change on disadvantaged communities and on future generations from any regulatory action that affected fossil fuel emissions, a new requirement.

IMMIGRATION

ENDING BAN ON MUSLIM TRAVELERS: Biden is ending what is variously known as the “travel ban” or the “Muslim ban,” one of the first acts of the Trump administration.

Trump in January 2017 banned foreign nationals from seven mostly Muslim countries from entry into the U.S. After a lengthy court fight, a watered-down version of the rule was upheld by the Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision in 2018.

The new administration says it will improve the screening of visitors by strengthening information sharing with foreign governments alongside other measures.

BORDER WALL: Biden is immediately ending the national emergency that Trump declared on the border in February 2018 to divert billions of dollars from the Defense Department to wall construction. He is also halting construction to review contracts and how wall money might be redirected.

DACA: Biden will order his Cabinet to work to preserve the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which has shielded hundreds of thousands of people who came to the country as young children from deportation since it was introduced in 2012.

DEPORTATIONS: Biden is revoking one of Trump’s first executive orders, which declared that all of the roughly 11 million people in the country illegally are considered priorities for deportation.

The Department of Homeland Security will conduct a review of enforcement priorities. Biden’s campaign site says deportations will focus on national security and public safety threats.

CENSUS: Biden is reversing a Trump plan to exclude people in the country illegally from being counted in the 2020 Census.

LEGISLATION: Biden is also proposing legislation that would grant green cards and a path to citizenship to anyone in the United States before Jan. 1, 2021, an estimated 11 million people.

Most would have to wait eight years for citizenship but people enrolled in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program for young immigrants and with temporary protective status for fleeing strife-torn countries would only wait three years.

Other provisions lessen the time that many people have to wait outside the United States for green cards, provide development aid to Central America and reduce the 1.2-million-case backlog in immigration courts.

STUDENT DEBT

Biden is asking the Education Department to extend a pause on federal student loan payments through at least Sept. 30, continuing a moratorium that began early in the pandemic but was set to expire at the end of January.

Borrowers, who owe a collective $1.5 trillion, would not be required to make payments on their federal student loans, their loans would not accrue any interest, and all debt collection activity would halt through September.

Congress paused student debt payments last March as part of a virus relief package, and the Trump administration extended it twice.

Biden’s order does not include the type of mass debt cancellation that some Democrats asked him to orchestrate through executive action. He has said that action should come from Congress.

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HOUSING FORECLOSURES

Housing foreclosures and evictions would be delayed until at least March 31, 2021. Almost 12% of homeowners with mortgages are late on their payments, while 19% of renters are behind, according to a Census Bureau survey of households.

The federal moratoriums would ensure that people could stay in their homes even if they cannot afford their monthly bills. Biden is also calling on Congress to extend assistance to renters.

While the moratoriums have aided several million Americans during the pandemic and helped to contain the disease, they have also meant that billions of dollars in housing costs have gone unpaid.

Associated Press writers Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, Ellen Knickmeyer, Ben Fox, Elliot Spagat, Matt Lee and Josh Boak contributed to this report.