by Anika Jain (’22) | March 1, 2021
Last January, President Joe Biden was officially inaugurated. This presidential election has been incontrovertibly momentous with historical anomalies such as the riots on the U.S. Capitol on January 6 and President Trump’s second impeachment trial in mid-February. Not only has political polarization intensified between Democrats and Republicans, but tensions within the two parties have also increased. Both parties were not entirely satisfied with their candidates, especially leftists who began movements such as “Settle for Biden” in order to amalgamate votes against President Trump.
Looking back at President Biden’s first month in office, one question comes to my mind: What has changed? For starters, Biden has shown commitment to his environmental policy as president. He officially rejoined the United States to the Paris Climate Agreement, which holds the signed countries responsible for curbing greenhouse gas emissions every five years. More than 100 environmental rules were overturned during the Trump administration, so it seems that for the time being, most of the Biden administration’s environmental actions will be working to reinstate the status quo from the Obama administration. Thus, we can expect that in the next four years, America will be focused on rudimentary environmental policy and not making major leaps in addressing climate change. Unfortunately, while President Biden shows surface level promise in galvanizing governmental action for sustainability, he simultaneously issued dozens of oil drilling permits within his first few days in office, demonstrating his reservations about true environmental action.
In addition, the Biden administration has failed to uphold its campaign promise to completely halt deportations of immigrants within their first 100 days in office. Over 26,000 people have been deported under the Biden administration thus far, with 10,000 children still in detainment centers. That is an estimate of 905 migrants that are deported every day, which will amount to 330,000 migrants by the end of 2021. As families continue to struggle to attain citizenship, President Biden and the Department for Homeland Security have enforced duplicitous immigration policy by unveiling new ICE deportation guidelines. While a few guidelines do rescind Trump era guidelines, America once again finds itself upholding Obama era guidelines that disproportionately target Black and Latinx undocumented immigrants. Additionally, the Biden administration has recently opened a new “overflow facility” that can accommodate 700 children. Naureen Shah, the senior advocacy and policy counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union, released a statement that overtly declared the new guidelines to be “a disappointing step backward from the Biden administration’s earlier commitments to fully break from the harmful deportation policies of both the Trump and Obama presidencies.”
Furthermore, President Biden has been pushing back against the House and Senate Democrats by refusing to support a bill that would allow $50,000 in student debt forgiveness per borrower; however, he has stated that he would support $10,000 in student debt forgiveness. Biden has also not yet fulfilled his promise of $2000 stimulus checks within his COVID-19 relief plan, which politicians such as Representative Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez have pointed out. Last but not least, President Biden privately told governors that the national minimum wage hike to $15 an hour that he promised will likely be impossible. According to a witness, Biden stated, “I really want this in there but it just doesn’t look like we can do it because of reconciliation. I’m not going to give up. But right now, we have to prepare for this not making it.”
In conclusion, while I must admit to being disappointed by the sheer amount of unkept promises, it is crucial to keep paying attention to politics and to continue to hold the Biden administration responsible for its harmful policies. Although Biden may not be a “game changer,” America has witnessed the anomie that can happen when we lose sight of progress. Upholding the status quo may turn out to be the most quixotic challenge of the next four years.