Biden to Revoke Trump’s ‘Patriotic Education’ Order, Shield DACA on First Day as President

President Joe Biden is pledging to “preserve and fortify” executive action that shields certain undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as young children, and initiate a government-wide push to emphasize racial equity on his first day as president.

Biden announced these and a flurry of other planned executive actions early Wednesday, shortly before he was slated to be inaugurated as the nation’s 46th president.

In addition, Biden said he will rescind an executive order from outgoing President Donald Trump that created a commission to promote “patriotic education” in schools and elsewhere. That commission released a report Monday that lamented what it called the role of identity politics and the progressive movement in historical studies; it was criticized by many historians for how it treated slavery and other elements of American history.

For months, Biden has pledged to reverse Trump administration actions on a variety of fronts. This pledge has extended to education, where Biden has promised to re-institute Obama administration guidance on transgender student rights and racial disparities in school discipline. However, that guidance came from Obama’s U.S. Department of Education, and Biden did not specifically mention either piece of guidance among his list of “day one” actions.

Biden pledged to “preserve and fortify” the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which provides certain legal protections to people who came to the country as undocumented immigrants while still young children, and said he would assign this task the Department of Homeland Security and the Attorney General.

He also said he would push Congress to create a path to citizenship for those protected by DACA. Obama instituted DACA in 2012, and Trump unsuccessfully tried to eliminate it. It’s worth remembering that Congress has tried but failed to address DACA in recent years as part of broader immigration legislation. An estimated 9,000 educators are protected by DACA.

“Many are serving our country in the armed services or as essential workers on the front lines of the pandemic,” Biden’s announcement said of those helped by DACA.

These actions are bold, begin the work of following through on President-elect Biden’s promises to the American people, and, importantly, fall within the constitutional role for the president.

Joe Biden

Elsewhere, Biden announced that on his first day as president, he would start a “whole-of-government” initiative to stress racial equity. According to Biden’s team, this initiative will:

  • “Direct every federal agency to undertake a baseline review of the state of equity within their agency and deliver an action plan within 200 days to address unequal barriers to opportunity in agency policies and programs.”
  • “Launch a new equitable data working group to ensure that federal data reflects the diversity of America.”
  • “Improve the delivery of government benefits and services to ensure that families of all backgrounds across the country can access opportunity, for example by reducing language access barriers.”
  • “Study new methods that federal agencies can use to assess whether proposed policies advance equity.”
  • “Direct agencies to engage with communities who have been historically underrepresented, underserved, and harmed by federal policies.”

On his first day in office, Biden is also scheduled to revoke a Trump executive order that cracked down on diversity and inclusion training in the federal government.

And he will sign an executive order “prohibiting workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.” This order will “direct agencies to take all lawful steps to make sure that federal anti-discrimination statutes that cover sex discrimination prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, protecting the rights of LGBTQ+ persons.” This could have an impact on what happens with the aforementioned guidance on transgender students. See some helpful background on that issue here.

“These actions are bold, begin the work of following through on President-elect Biden’s promises to the American people, and, importantly, fall within the constitutional role for the president,” Biden’s transition team said in a statement Wednesday.

On the higher education front, Biden will direct the Education Department to extend a pause on collecting interest and principal payments on direct federal loans until at least Sept. 30 of this year.

He also pledged to revoke a Trump directive that resulted in “harsh and extreme immigration enforcement,” and he will call an immediate halt to the construction of the border wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.

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