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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

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Biden Starts Work With 15 Executive Actions Today

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Hours after taking the oath of office, President Joe Biden will immediately begin cleaning up the mess Donald Trump made over the past four years.

On Wednesday, he will sign 15 executive orders and two directives to reset the federal government's approach to a wide array of issues.

These are the executive actions the Biden team says the president will sign.

COVID-19 mask mandate

Trump consistently refused to wear a mask or to encourage Americans to do so to curb the spread of the coronavirus, mocking them as "politically correct." President Biden will order mask use and social distancing on federal property and challenge every American to wear a face mask for the next 100 days.

Return To The World Health Organization

Trump announced in April that he would stop funding the World Health Organization in the middle of the pandemic, scapegoating it for the coronavirus' spread and his own botched response. Biden will end the withdrawal process and resume international public health cooperation.

Coordinated COVID-19 Response

After intentionally misleading the public and playing down the threat of the coronavirus, Trump lost interest in the crisis and did little to address it. Biden will designate a COVID-19 response coordinator to oversee improved testing, protection, and vaccination.

Eviction And Foreclosure Moratoriums

Thanks to Trump's failed response to the pandemic, millions of Americans have lost their jobs and fallen into poverty. Biden will urge government agencies to extend moratoriums on evictions and mortgage foreclosures until at least March 31.

Freezing Federal Student Loan Payments

With the ongoing economic troubles affecting many Americans with educational debt, Biden will also ask for an extension on existing freezes on principal and interest payments on direct federal loans until at least Sept. 30.

Rejoining Paris Climate Agreement

Trump, who once dismissed climate change as a hoax "created by and for the Chinese" to hurt American manufacturers, began the formal withdrawal of the United States from the 2015 Paris climate agreement in 2019. The accords aim to significantly limit the rise in global temperatures by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Biden, who campaigned on a promise of taking environmental protection seriously, will immediately rejoin the agreement.

Undoing Anti-Environmental Actions

Biden will also take a series of actions to undo Trump's efforts to destroy the planet and climate. These will include beginning the long process of eliminating his pro-polluter regulations, revising fuel economy and emissions standards, protecting public lands, halting the destruction of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and revoking the permit for the Keystone XL oil pipeline.

Ending Systemic Racism

Trump, who spent much of his term spouting his own racist views, took numerous steps to combat anti-racism education. Biden will order his administration to focus on "advancing racial equity for all" and will eliminate Trump's racist 1776 Commission, which sought to block schools from teaching kids about America's true history of slavery and discrimination.

Counting All Immigrants In Census

Trump repeatedly tried to find ways to exclude immigrants from the 2020 census and to leave out undocumented people. Biden will ensure an accurate count of the population as required by the Constitution.

Protecting Dreamers

Trump sought for years to eliminate the Obama administration's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which offered legal protections for hundreds of thousands of young immigrants brought to the United States as children. The Supreme Court halted his efforts due to a paperwork error. Biden will restore and expand the program as he works to enact comprehensive immigration reform legislation.

Ending Muslim Ban

As a candidate in 2015, Trump promised a "total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what's going on." Once he took office, he banned travel from a number of majority-Muslim countries. Biden will eliminate this racist policy.

Stopping Extreme Immigration Policies

Trump issued an order in 2017 prioritizing the arrest and deportation of undocumented immigrants. Biden will revoke this order, allowing his administration "to set civil immigration enforcement policies that best protect the American people and are in line with our values and priorities."

Ending Construction Of Trump Border Wall

Trump's signature promise during the 2016 presidential campaign was to immediately build a massive wall along the entire U.S.-Mexican border, to be paid for entirely by Mexico. Instead, American taxpayers spent $15 billion to fortify existing fencing and build just 12 new miles of wall. Biden will immediately stop construction.

Protecting Liberian Immigrants

Biden will protect Liberian immigrants who have long been in the United States, extending existing protections until June 30, 2022. This extends a decadeslong program Trump sought to wind down.

Fighting Anti-LGBTQ Discrimination

Trump spent four years systematically rolling back protections for LGBTQ Americans. Biden will reaffirm protections against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Government Ethics Reform

Trump broke his promise to "drain the swamp" of government in nearly every way possible. Biden will order every executive branch appointee to adopt and adhere to an ethics pledge.

Fixing Regulatory Process

Trump issued orders making it nearly impossible for the government to protect consumers, workers, and the planet through regulations. Biden will repeal those restrictions, while putting on hold all of Trump's last-minute regulatory actions.

In a press release on Wednesday, his transition team said, "President-elect Biden will take action — not just to reverse the gravest damages of the Trump administration — but also to start moving our country forward."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

The Dreamers Are Still Waiting For Their Nightmare To End

In 2001, two U.S. senators introduced the DREAM Act, to let immigrants brought here without authorization as children remain in the country. Democrat Dick Durbin of Illinois and Republican Orrin Hatch of Utah didn't know how fitting the name would be. Today, the idea of granting legal status to these innocents is just that — a dream.

This is legislation that both parties should be able to agree on — and, to some extent, have. It would be an act of compassion for people who have grown up to be Americans, despite the accident of their foreign birth, and become productive members of our society. It would also be a service to everyone else, by ensuring the continuation of their valuable contributions — as doctors, nurses, teachers, construction workers and more — while opening up wider opportunities for them to contribute.

The usual complaints about immigrants, undocumented or otherwise, don't apply to the people who would benefit, known as "Dreamers." They didn't choose to violate our immigration laws. The vast majority has grown up speaking English and integrating into society. The legalization would include only those who earned a high school diploma or General Education Degree, haven't committed crimes and exhibit "good moral character." MS-13 need not apply.

This change has found its way into one major immigration bill after another, including a 2006 package that had the support of President George W. Bush as well as such Republican senators as Lindsey Graham, John McCain and Sam Brownback. That year, 23 GOP senators voted for it as part of an immigration overhaul. But it has never managed to become law.

It has been in abeyance for so long that some of the children who stood to gain back in 2001 have become parents. At this point, deporting the "Dreamers" would do grave harm not only to them but to their American-born children. But the measure has stayed on the shelf, in a triumph of indifference, inertia, cruelty and political dysfunction.

In 2012, confronted with this maddening failure, Barack Obama issued an executive order shielding these immigrants from expulsion. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program granted temporary protection to some 700,000 people. Republicans denounced it as a shocking overreach by a would-be king — back before they learned to love untrammeled presidential power. They forgot Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush had taken similar action to block the removal of large numbers of undocumented immigrants.

When the virulently anti-immigration Donald Trump became president, he ordered an end to DACA. But federal courts ruled against him; the program remained in effect; and this year, the Supreme Court saved it, finding that the administration failed to follow federal law in rescinding it.

For the "Dreamers," the decision was a reprieve. The next administration would like to make it permanent. Joe Biden's campaign website said: "Dreamers and their parents should have a roadmap to citizenship through legislative immigration reform. But in the meantime, Biden will remove the uncertainty for Dreamers by reinstating the DACA program, and he will explore all legal options to protect their families from inhumane separation."

DACA's opponents, however, have not given up their merciless crusade to punish the blameless. In July, acting secretary Chad Wolf ordered DHS to reject all new applications — only to be overruled by a federal court, which ordered the department to resume taking them.

On Tuesday, Texas and eight other Republican-controlled states asked a federal court in Houston to strip the "Dreamers" of their protection. That would allow their deportation to countries that, for many, are no more familiar than Antarctica.

The states supporting DACA argued that the court should bide its time until the new administration arrives and decides what to do. If the court should strike it down, Biden could unilaterally fashion a new program, which might or might not survive judicial review.

All this would have been avoided had Congress mustered the humanity to pass legislation protecting them. Trump professed "love" for the "Dreamers" and vowed to help them. But over the past four years, neither he nor his allies in Congress could bring themselves to do the right thing.

In the closing weeks of his presidency, Trump has granted clemency to all sorts of vile people who committed serious crimes. The "Dreamers," who did nothing wrong, are still waiting for their absolution.

Steve Chapman blogs at http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/chapman. Follow him on Twitter @SteveChapman13 or at https://www.facebook.com/stevechapman13. To find out more about Steve Chapman and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

High Court Curtails Another Hateful Trump Policy

You'd think that any American president would be delighted to welcome hard-working and ambitious young adults clamoring to join the American family. But President Donald J. Trump has been openly hostile to black and brown people he could paint as "other" -- dangerous, lazy, lawless, un-American.

Resurrecting the rage, resentment and racism of George Wallace for an era in which immigration has changed the nation's demographics, Trump has created concentration camps at the southern border, bottlenecked asylum requests and deported people for traffic offenses. He has even gone after the young adults known as "Dreamers," mostly darker-skinned residents who are citizens in every way but the most technical: They weren't born here.

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Danziger: The American Nightmare

Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons and one novel. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.com.