First order of US President Joe Biden in office would be linked with Muslims
NEW YORK - Within hours of being sworn in on Wednesday as the US President, Joe Biden plans to sign a number of executive orders, including rejoining the 2016 Paris climate accord and ending the travel ban on predominantly Muslim countries, designed to signal an immediate break from President Donald Trump.
“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,” incoming White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain wrote in a memo released Saturday.
One of Trump’s first actions as president in 2017 was to suspend entry to the United States of travelers from seven majority Muslim nations: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen, for 90 days. That executive order created chaos at airports around the world, and lawsuits against the ban quickly followed.
After federal judges barred the first ban’s implementation, Trump issued a second ban that was also quickly tied up in federal courts.
A third version of the ban was issued by the White House in the fall of 2017, and this one applied to six majority Muslim countries and two non-majority Muslim countries. The following year, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the third ban, which remains in place today.
“We face four overlapping and compounding crises: the COVID-19 crisis, the resulting economic crisis, the climate crisis, and a racial equity crisis,” Klain, Biden’s chief of staff, wrote. “All of these crises demand urgent action. In his first 10 days in office, President-elect Biden will take decisive action to address these four crises, prevent other urgent and irreversible harms, and restore America’s place in the world.”
The other orders will include the launch of a “100 masking challenge” that will mandate masks on federal property and interstate travel, extend the pause on repayment of and interest on student loans, continue restrictions on evictions and foreclosures; all related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Biden will be inaugurated on January 20 amid unprecedented security with more than 25,000 National Guard troops deployed in Washington DC in the wake of the storming of the US Capitol on January 6. FBI has warned of “armed protests” in days leading up to the inauguration.
President Trump announced US exit from the Paris Agreement in June 2017, saying it disadvantaged the country, blunted its competitive edge, and favoured China.
The Paris Agreement is a legally binding global treaty that was signed in December 2015 and entered into force on November 2016. Signatory countries fix its own mitigation targets, called Nationally Determined Contributions. The accord remains in force, unaffected by US exit.
The US return to the Paris Agreement was one of Biden’s key campaign promises, as part of an aggressive climate agenda.
Meanwhile, a huge swath of the capital city of Washington is blocked off, patrolled by uniformed National Guard troops as part of a buildup never seen. And the U.S. capital is getting even more fortified as federal, state and local officials brace for a worst-case scenario of violence tied to the Jan. 20 inauguration.
Thousands of law enforcement, military and intelligence personnel have been activated to provide security in Washington leading up to President-elect Biden’s swearing-in, a ceremony that will have far less pomp than in the past because of the coronavirus pandemic and last week’s deadly riots at the Capitol.
Behind the scenes, federal agents, prosecutors and analysts are racing to track and disrupt active plots in what some say is the greatest security challenge since the days after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, according to current and former U.S. officials cited by news media.
“We’re concerned about the potential for violence at multiple protests and rallies planned here in D.C. and at state capitol buildings around the country in the days to come,” FBI Director Christoper Wray said in a security briefing on Thursday. “It could bring armed individuals within close proximity to government buildings and officials.”
A bulletin by the FBI and other agencies this week warned that extremists targeting the inauguration may exploit the aftermath of the Jan. 6 Capitol breach by conducting attacks to destabilize and force a larger conflict in the U.S., according to media reports. More than 100 people involved in the riots — which led to at least five deaths — have been charged with crimes so far, with more expected.
Efforts to uncover active plots include searching social media, monitoring online chat sites, arresting individuals identified in the Capitol riots and interviewing suspects and witnesses, two U.S. officials s told Bloomberg News.
The Justice Department also has started making preemptive arrests: An Illinois man was arrested on Jan. 12 for threatening to kill Democrats during the inauguration. Capitol Police have warned that anyone trying to “unlawfully gain access” to the Capitol Complex will be subject to “an appropriate use of force and arrest.”
A presidential inauguration is always a highest-tier security affair, but agencies amplified and accelerated their operations following the Capitol siege, which was led by Trump supporters trying to disrupt the certification of Biden’s Electoral College victory by Congress.
The Secret Service is in charge of inauguration security and has activated a command center — officially known as the Multi-Agency Coordinating Center — to bring together federal, state and local agencies.
More than 20 public safety agencies are involved in the security planning, including law enforcement, fire and rescue and emergency medical services, according to the Secret Service