Biden, change of course from day one

He will sign a dozen decrees on climate, immigration and the fight against the coronavirus. Kamala Harris to be sworn in as the first Hispanic Supreme Court justice
Biden, change of course from day one

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The president-elect of the United States, Joe Biden, has prepared dozens of decrees that he plans to sign in his first ten days in power, including a dozen orders that he will sign this Wednesday, the day of his inauguration, one of his advisors said Saturday.

In addition to sending Congress an immigration reform proposal on the day of his inauguration that will include a path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States and urging Congress to approve his $1.9 trillion economic stimulus plan, Biden will take several steps unilaterally.

The first day bills

These measures include a decree to return the United States to the Paris Climate Agreement and another that will end the veto issued by President Donald Trump on the entry of travelers from several Muslim-majority countries.

It will also order an extension of the moratorium on student loan payments in the country, extend restrictions on evictions and foreclosures, and declare the mandatory use of anti-covid-19 masks on federal property and transportation crossing state lines.

This was announced Saturday by Biden's White House chief of staff, Ron Klain, in a letter distributed by the transition team.

The day after the inauguration, Thursday, June 21, Biden will sign a series of executive orders related to the covid-19 pandemic, focused on safely reopening schools and businesses, mitigating contagion through expanded testing for coronaviruses, and establishing clear public health standards, Klain said.

On Friday, the now president-elect will ask his cabinet to take "immediate steps to provide economic relief to working families who have borne the brunt of this crisis," he added.

Caravana de Honduras migrantes

Reuniting Separated Families at the Border

Between Monday, February 25 and February 1, Biden will sign more decrees, including some focused on "restoring dignity to the immigration system and border policies" and "beginning the difficult but crucial process of reuniting separated families at the border," Klain said.

In early December, a group of lawyers working to reunite migrant families affected by Trump's "zero tolerance" policy said they had yet to find the parents of some 628 children separated from them at the border in 2017 and 2018, according to NBC News.

In that first full week in office, Biden will also take steps to "address the climate crisis with the urgency that science demands," to "expand access to health care" for low-income people and to "reform the criminal justice system," Klain said.

Biden is also expected to speak by phone with several leaders from other countries and "take steps to restore America's place in the world," he concluded. 

New Scientific Advisors 

Klain's letter came shortly after Biden introduced his science team, including a presidential science advisor who, if confirmed by the Senate, will be part of the cabinet, something that has never happened before and with which the president-elect wants to underscore the importance of this issue to him.

The nominee to become that advisor is geneticist Eric Lander, the main leader of the Human Genome Project, which between 1990 and 2003 achieved the mapping of all human genes.

He also named Alondra Nelson as Lander's "number two"; and Frances Arnold and Maria Zuber - the first American woman to win a Nobel Prize in chemistry, and the first woman to lead a NASA spacecraft mission, respectively - as co-chairs of the President's Science and Technology Advisory Council.

At an event in Wilmington, Delaware, Biden said he wanted those advisors to be the last ones he appoints before he gets to the White House because they are "the ones who will have the most impact" on the future of the nation's children.

Kamala Harris

Kamala Harris to be sworn in as first Hispanic Supreme Court justice

U.S. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will be sworn in on Wednesday with the help of Judge Sonia Sotomayor, the first Hispanic justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, an advisor to Joe Biden's running mate said Saturday.

The plan seeks to underscore the historic moment that will mark the inauguration of Harris, who will be the first woman vice president of the United States, as well as the first woman of black and Asian roots to reach the White House.

For her part, Sotomayor, who was born in New York and whose parents were Puerto Rican, became in 2009 the first Hispanic judge to ascend to the Supreme Court in the country's history, after being nominated by then-President Barack Obama.

Currently, Sotomayor is one of only three progressive Supreme Court justices, and is probably the most admired figure by Democrats on the high court, following the death last September of veteran Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Harris will be sworn in as vice president on Wednesday at a ceremony outside the Capitol in Washington, just before Biden is sworn in, in her case in front of Chief Justice John Roberts.

The oath of office for both officials consists of a brief recitation of the words Roberts and Sotomayor will recite to them, which will commit Biden and Harris to diligently exercise their new positions and defend the Constitution.

While taking the oath of office, Harris will put his hand on two Bibles, as is the tradition in the country, said Saturday an advisor to the vice president-elect, who was quoted by several media as asking for anonymity.

The first Bible he will use belonged to a friend of Harris' family, Regina Shelton; and the second was owned by the late Justice Thurgood Marshall, who was the first African-American to serve on the Supreme Court and is one of the vice president-elect's great references, the advisor explained.

Joe Biden-Kamala Harris

Biden, for his part, plans to use the same Bible he has used for that purpose throughout his political career to take the oath of office: a huge tome that has been in his family's possession since 1893, measuring nearly five inches wide.

The president-elect last used that Bible to swear in his second term as U.S. vice president in 2013, a ceremony in which he was also sworn in by Judge Sotomayor. 

The inauguration will be held with a small audience due to the protocols to prevent contagion by covid-19, and its security device will be the most powerful in the history of the country, with up to 25,000 military deployed in Washington, in view of the fears of new attacks after the assault on the Capitol on the 6th.