In his first days in office President Biden swiftly began his agenda with several executive orders reversing several Trump-era policies on immigration, LGBTQ rights, the coronavirus pandemic and climate change.
Biden immediately took on the climate crisis by rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline, stopping construction on the southern border wall to Mexico and returning the U.S. into the international community of fighting global warming by re-joining the Paris Climate Accord.
The rejoining of this global agreement comes after Trump pulled out in June 2017, saying he was “elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris.”
The Sierra Club, one of the country’s largest environmental organizations with chapters in all 50 states and the District, has applauded Biden’s environmental moves.
“What an incredible breath of fresh air that President Biden is already delivering on his promise to prioritize immediate executive action to tackle the climate crisis on day one,” said Melinda Pierce, legislative director of the Sierra Club. “These actions are rooted in the rightful recognition of the fact that our planet, our lands, our air, our water and our communities do not belong to corporations, lobbyists, or government institutions – they belong to us, the people, and protecting them is essential.”
The Sierra Club and other groups also applauded Biden for rescinding Trump’s national emergency declaration used to erect the unfinished border wall they say is illegal and constructed on sacred land.
“Our sacred river is not a border but the life-giving force that connects us all together. The wall itself is an immoral monument to settler colonial destruction,” said Christopher Basaldú, Ph.D., organizing manager for Sierra Club and a member of the Carrizo Comecrudo Tribe of Texas (Esto’k Gna). “It embodies and expresses centuries of white supremacy, racism and genocide. Ongoing border militarization and the wall devalue the lives of human beings on both sides of the river, thus reinforcing settler-white supremacist oppression.
“This most recent executive order should be a critical first step in stopping and eventually dismantling this immoral wall and the connected systems of border militarization,” he said.
Biden also ended the travel ban from some Muslim countries, reinstated deferred forced departure for Liberians and rejoined the World Health Organization [WHO] after his predecessor pulled the U.S. out last summer as the coronavirus pandemic surged.
“The WHO plays a crucial role in the world’s fight against the deadly COVID-19 pandemic as well as countless other threats to global health and health security,” Biden said in a statement. “The United States will continue to be a full participant and a global leader in confronting such threats and advancing global health and health security.”
Biden’s reversal comes just in time as Trump’s decision would have taken effect this July as the formal withdrawal from the WHO requires a year’s notice.
Trump halted funding for the organization in April of 2020, prompting global concern over the health agency’s ability to respond effectively to the coronavirus pandemic as the U.S. served as the largest donor to the agency, contributing almost $893 million for its programs in 2018-2019, according to the United Nations (U.N.).
U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres welcomed the announcement by Biden.
“Now is the time for unity and for the international community to work together in solidarity to stop this virus and its shattering consequences,” he said.