By Erin Hassanzadeh

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Upon returning to the White House on Inauguration Day, President Joe Biden immediately signed 15 executive orders.

Many of them reversed policies by the Trump administration. Among the measures are changes to the United States’s response to COVID-19; protections for renters; the ending of the Keystone XL Pipeline; and rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement.

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Some of these “day one” changes make a huge difference in the lives of Minnesotans. One signature can change someone’s entire world. Biden’s cancelation of Former President Donald Trump’s travel ban on some Muslim-majority nations does just that for Sepideh Ayani.

“I cried. I was like watching the whole inauguration. I was watching like my life was dependent on it,” Ayani said.

The Minneapolis software engineer tried and failed twice to get her parents a visa to come visit from Iran. Once was for her sister’s wedding in 2017.

“I’ll never forget my mom even got her dress, like they were so prepared, they were so ready to just get a ticket and come,” Ayani said.

The other was for the birth of their granddaughter just a few months later.

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“When we couldn’t have them here it really crushed us emotionally, it really did,” she said.

Sepideh Ayani and her family (credit: Sepideh Ayani)

Jaylani Hussein, executive director of The Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, says the executive orders provide hope that more reunions will happen soon.

“This hit the East African community, a lot of the immigrant community in Minnesota hard,” Hussein said. “For four years many of these families have not been able to either see their wives or their children.”

President Biden’s orders also end construction on the Southern border wall, and call on Congress to create a path to citizenship for DACA “Dreamers” and other undocumented people in the U.S. It’s a sign that immigration reform is top of mind for the president, says Veena Iyer, executive director of the Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota.

“There’s a sign that there’s an administration who frankly isn’t targeting them from day one,” Iyer said. “We are just looking to make sure the administration follows through with all of the proposals that it’s making today.”

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Other executive actions Wednesday include rejoining the World Health Organization and continuing the pause on student loan payments until Sept. 30.

Erin Hassanzadeh