The Donald Trump policies Joe Biden has already overturned

Executive orders wipe away Trump’s legacy on climate change and border wall funding

Joe Biden signs an executive order at the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office
(Image credit: Doug Mills/Pool/Getty Images)

Joe Biden has spent the first weeks of his presidency overturning a host of Donald Trump’s policies through a flurry of executive orders beginning within hours of his inauguration.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki yesterday told reporters that Biden was taking steps to “address the pain and suffering” caused by Trump’s “immoral policies” after the president put pen to paper on his 25th executive order since taking office.

“Building a presidential legacy out of executive actions can be like building castles out of sand - both risk being wiped out by the changing tides,” The Economist says. And “Trump spent much of his presidency playing in the sand”.

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Though not an executive order, Biden recommitted the US to the Paris Climate Agreement on his first day in office. Trump had formally left the accord in November 2020.

Biden also signed an executive order revoking the permit granted by Trump to the Keystone XL Pipeline. Environmentalists and Native American groups have fought against the development for more than a decade, meaning Biden’s change of course marked a “huge win for the Indigenous-led climate movement”, The Guardian says.

LGBTQ rights

Earlier this week, Biden repealed Trump’s ban on transgender Americans joining the military through an executive order. In a statement, the White House said: “Transgender service members will no longer be subject to the possibility of discharge or separation on the basis of gender identity.”

The president also signed an executive order that ABC News reports will “enforce sex discrimination protections within the federal government”.

Rejoining the WHO

Biden has halted the process - begun by Trump - of withdrawing the US from the World Health Organization (WHO).

In a letter sent to UN Secretary-General António Guterres, Biden said the WHO “plays a crucial role in the world’s fight against the deadly Covid-19 pandemic”, adding that the US “will continue to be a full participant and a global leader in confronting such threats and advancing global health and health security”.

The UN welcomed the move as “absolutely critical” for a more co-ordinated global response to the pandemic, USA Today reports.


The Trump administration’s emergency declaration that helped fund the building of a wall along the Mexican border has also been revoked, while the so-called Muslim ban, which restricted foreign nationals from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the US, has also been ended.

Biden also signed an executive order to overturn a Trump-era policy that made “sanctuary jurisdictions that did not comply with immigration enforcement measures ineligible to receive federal funding”, ABC News says.

Justice system

Biden this week issued an executive order that will phase out the Justice Department’s use of private prisons in an “effort to address racial inequity in the country that makes good on Biden’s campaign promises to black Americans”, NBC News reports.

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Chas Newkey-Burden has been part of The Week Digital team for more than a decade and a journalist for 25 years, starting out on the irreverent football weekly 90 Minutes, before moving to lifestyle magazines Loaded and Attitude. He was a columnist for The Big Issue and landed a world exclusive with David Beckham that became the weekly magazine’s bestselling issue. He now writes regularly for The Guardian, The Telegraph, The Independent, Metro, FourFourTwo and the i new site. He is also the author of a number of non-fiction books.