Joe Biden became president of the United States and Kamala Harris became vice president on January 20 in an inaugural ceremony at the capitol in Washington, D.C. The ceremony has taken place without fail every four years since 1789, when George Washington became the United States’ first president. Joe Biden is the 46th president.
The day featured plenty of historic firsts. Kamala Harris is the first woman ever to hold national office in the U.S., and is the first child of immigrants to do so. She was sworn in by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the first Latina to serve on the Supreme Court. Senators Warnock (Black), Ossoff (Jewish), and Padilla (Latino) were sworn into office by Vice President Harris. The inaugural poet, Amanda Gorman, is Black. President Biden called for racial justice in his inaugural address, saying “the dream will be deferred no longer.” He also promised to defeat white supremacy and domestic terrorism.
On the afternoon of his first day in office President Biden fulfilled his promise to end the so-called Muslim ban, signaling a sea change in the approach his administration intends to take toward immigration. The lifting of the ban means that the U.S. State Department will once again process visas from Chad, Eritrea, Libya, Nigeria, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania, and other predominantly Muslim countries.
Maine’s Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project (ILAP) issued the following statement today:
“We cannot overstate the amount of trauma and suffering experienced by immigrant Mainers and their families under the four years of the Trump administration. The administration’s white supremacist ideology, culminating in an attempted coup on January 6, 2021, infected every part of immigration law and policy, large and small.”
ILAP listed actions they hope President Biden will take in his first 100 days in office, including rebuilding the asylum system; protecting immigrant survivors of domestic violence, trafficking, and other crimes; protecting immigrant youth; restoring family reunification; decriminalizing immigration.
In his inaugural address, President Biden vowed that the U.S. will once again stand as a beacon to the world. He plans to submit an ambitious immigration bill to Congress in the next few days.