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President Joe Biden signs executive orders on COVID-19, immigration, climate change and more

President Biden took action on his first day in office. Here's what's changing.

WASHINGTON, D.C., USA — Within hours of President Joe Biden taking the oath of office, he signed 17 executive actions, including 15 executive orders focused on combatting the pandemic, changing immigration policies and addressing the environment.

Click here to read the text of some of the orders, and keep reading to see what those changes mean.

‘100 Days Masking Challenge’

Biden’s order challenges Americans to wear a mask for 100 days and also requires masks and distancing in all federal buildings, on all federal lands, and by federal employees and contractors.

Rejoin World Health Organization

Biden’s order reverses a move from President Trump to leave the WHO, which is coordinating the international response to COVID-19.

Restructure government response to COVID-19

According to a release from the Biden administration, the order creates “the position of COVID-19 Response Coordinator, who will report directly to the President and be responsible for coordinating all elements of the COVID-19 response across government, including managing efforts to produce, supply, and distribute personal protective equipment, vaccines, and tests.”

Extend eviction and foreclosure moratoriums

President Biden’s order asks the CDC to extend the moratorium on foreclosures and evictions to March 31, 2021 and extend foreclosure moratoriums for federally guaranteed mortgages to the same date.

Extend student loan pause

This order continues the pause on student loan payments and interest until September 30, 2021.

Rejoin the Paris Agreement on Climate Change

This order will take 30 days to go into effect and will put the United State back into the Paris Climate Agreement that is focused on reducing greenhouse-gas emissions and curbing global warming.

Keystone XL pipeline/federal oil and gas leases

Biden’s order revokes the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline, a multi-billion dollar project that would move oil from Alberta, Canada down to the Texas Gulf Coast. 

FROM 2017: Tribes in US, Canada unite against Keystone XL oil pipeline

Republican lawmakers have criticized but this action and the Paris Climate Agreement, arguing that both will hurt jobs in the state. It will also stop land development on the Grand Staircase-Escalante, Bear Ears, Northeast Canyons, and Seamounts Marine National Monuments and placing a temporary moratorium on all oil and natural gas leasing activities in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Advance racial equality

This order requires every agency to review its own equity issues and deliver a plan of action within 200 days to address “unequal barriers to opportunity in agency policies and programs”. The Office of Management and Budget will also have to see if federal money is being use fairly across underserved communities and communities of color.

Count non-US citizens in US Census

This order reverses a recent President Trump order to not count non-US citizens. This changes how federal money and representation is split up.

Protections for Dreamers

This order asks the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Attorney General to do what they can to protect and fortify DACA. The Trump administration fought in the US Supreme Court to end DACA but failed. 

RELATED: DACA recipient thankful after federal judge fully restores program

Biden’s order also asks congress for a longterm solution to keep the issue out of executive order limbo.

Reverse Muslim ban

This order ends what’s referred to as the “Muslim travel ban” stopped entry to the country from primarily Muslim countries including Syria, Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen.

Change ICE policies

This order changes Trump’s immigration enforcement polices to be less strict but the order’s description doesn’t provide specifics.

Stop border wall construction

Biden’s order halts funding and construction of President Trump’s border wall project.

Protections for Liberians 

The order allows Liberians who have been in the country for many years to continue to until June 30, 2022 and have work authorization extended.

Protections for gender identity or sexual orientation

Biden’s actions requires agencies to take action that will “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.”

Ethics pledge

The order requires every presidential appointee to sign an ethics pledge. The order’s description didn’t provide specific details.

Regulatory review changes

Biden’s order removes orders from President Trump that changed the regulatory process and ask the Office of Budget and Management to modernize and improve regulatory review.

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