Young immigrant, climate and racial justice activists say they feel hopeful about the Biden Administration following a slew of executive orders signed by President Biden on his first day in office, reversing many policies set forth by the Trump administration.
Among his first executive orders, Biden moved to halt construction of Trump’s border wall, reverse his predecessor’s travel ban targeting largely Muslim countries, and rejoin the Paris climate accord. Biden also signed a presidential memorandum to fortify DACA, the Obama-era program which shielded undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children from deportation.
“It feels like a huge weight lifted from my shoulders just because I know so many people are suffering from what the past administration did,” Leidy Leon, an 18-year-old Mexican immigrant and DACA applicant, told CNN.
Biden’s decision to prioritize actions affecting immigrants has a direct impact on her daily life, she said.
For his part, Ahmad Ibsais, a 19-year-old Muslim American, says he is optimistic about Biden’s approach to immigration and inclusion of Muslim people.
“It gives me a lot of hope for the direction of this country,” Ibsais said of Biden’s executive order to reverse the travel ban on predominately Muslim countries.
“For a lot of Muslim Americans that I’ve met, and my family, we came to this country in search of a better future and life. Hopefully now we have a President that is reversing something that was stripped away an American ideal,” Ibsais told CNN.
As for Biden’s executive moves to rejoin the Paris climate accord and revoking the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline, Lily Gardner, a 17-year-old climate activist, called the decisions “really big wins for the climate movement.”
Gardner – an organizer with Sunrise Movement, the youth-led climate justice organization – said that while these executive orders signal that Biden is taking climate seriously, “this is the start and it’s nowhere near the end.”
“This is a huge signal that these two things are Day One priorities, and I think that signals the importance of climate justice in the coming 100 days and remainder of the administration, I hope,” Gardner said.
Across the board, these young activists say they will continue to push the President and his administration toward more aggressive progressive measures.
When it comes to racial justice, Biden is “setting the tone of what’s next for our country,” Chelsea Miller, a 24-year-old racial justice advocate, told CNN.
Miller said that by prioritizing equity in his executive orders, Biden is taking “a step in the right direction.”
“But I think that when we’re talking about the 17 executive orders, let’s also push for the next 17 to come because there’s so much more to do,” Miller said, adding that she would like to see executive orders and legislation that will impact activists on the frontlines of the movement for racial justice.
“Specifically when it comes to the Black Lives Matter movement, I’m paying attention to executive orders that perhaps have the ability to offer protections for protestors,” Miller said, adding that she believes there should be an executive order “with protections for protestors who were impacted by false charges or hyper-targeted by police this past summer.”