NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The new president has already fired off a flurry of executive orders, and one of them has immigrants hopeful.
President Joe Biden has lifted the travel ban from several Muslim countries.
A stone’s throw from Lady Liberty in a city of immigrants, there’s high praise for one of Biden’s first acts — undoing one of President Donald Trump’s.
“It is a monumental change and a reaffirmation that human dignity still matters,” state Sen. Andrew Gounardes said.
“We finally have an end to the racist, xenophobic Muslim and African bans, and that didn’t come easy,” said Murad Awawdeh, with the New York Immigration Coalition.
It came amid protest after Trump restricted travel from more than a dozen majority-Muslim countries.
Among them, Nashwan Mozab, a deli worker fleeing war and famine in Yemen. He lives here with his daughter, but his wife has been unable to join them for three years.
“Sometimes, the tears come down. It hurts me. It really does,” Mozab told CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff.
In reversing the policy, Biden said the ban undermined national security, jeopardized alliances and was a stain on our national conscience.
Instead, the White House says visitors will be rigorously vetted.
Immigrant advocates are calling for permanent reform, not subject to executive orders, which are temporary.
“We need to pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill that not only gives a pathway to citizenship for 12 million undocumented people but also legislates that there never be a Muslim ban ever again,” one advocate said.
Supporters of the ban cite national security.
Republican Nicole Malliotakis, now a member of Congress, opposed it.
“I just think it was unfair. I thought it was discriminatory. I represent a Muslim community who expressed strong concerns,” she said.
It’s unclear how COVID restrictions will affect reunification. The president’s order calls for the resumption of visa processing and the clearing of backlogs.
A rally is still planned in Washington on Jan. 27, the four-year anniversary of the Muslim travel ban being put into place.