Hanna Pham is a 2nd year War Studies student from the United States but grew up moving around Asia. Her interests range from the cultural and political identity of the Asian-American diaspora to the role that euphemisms and language play in American political discourse. Her writing can also be found in Strand Magazine and Roar News. When not writing, she can be found in the kitchen, perfecting her focaccia recipe.
For American presidents, the first 100 days in office are a milestone that are scrutinized in order to reveal the efficacy of the presidency so far and to assess its projections for the next three odd years. Sitting President Joe Biden has recently surpassed his 100 days. In regards to Biden’s handling of the pandemic, he has tackled essentially every aspect from relief to vaccine availability head on. By invoking the Defense Production Act, Biden was able to administer 200 million vaccine doses by April 21, a goal that was a week ahead of schedule. Coupled with the American Rescue Plan, which cost a total of $1.9 billion, he has ensured that vaccine availability is easy and accessible for all Americans. However, one aspect of his first 100 days has caught criticism from both sides of the aisle—his handling of immigration. Biden states that he “welcomes immigrants in our communities”, but when examining his presidency thus far, has this proposition been followed through? So far, no.
While Biden has pushed back against the destruction that Trump caused to the American immigration system, such as dismantling Trump’s executive order that aimed to severely curb the number of immigrants let into the country. Biden was also successful in rolling back Trump’s “Muslim Ban” which prohibited the issuing of visas to people from thirteen predominantly Muslim countries. Furthermore, he has tasked Vice President Kamala Harris with working with foreign governments and NGOS to “reduce the incentive for Central Americans to immigrate unlawfully to this country,” in order to curb immigration and help to build up infrastructure and the means of living in these countries. Indubitably, these accomplishments are critical in the fight against the rampant xenophobia and mismanagement in the Immigration system, yet it is simply not enough.
The Trump administration initiated a piece of legislation entitled Title 42 which allowed them to deport 630,000 immigrants back to Central and South America, under the guise of halting the spread of Covid-19. Biden has yet to repeal Title 42 and since his election, 240,000 additional immigrants have been expelled from the United States. One of the biggest legacies of the Trump administration was its cruelness to migrant families and children, which unfortunately Biden has yet still to break from. As of March 8, more than 1,360 have been held at the border in facilities inadequate for children longer than 72 hours—the legal limit to detain children before they must be transferred to a shelter. On top of that, the facilities that children are being detained at before transferring were horrendous under Trump and remain so. Ran by the Customs and Border Protection Agency, these facilities are overrun by “disease, hunger, and overcrowding.”
Certainly, the current immigration crisis is not completely Biden’s fault—he inherited a broken system. Realistically in 100 days, it is difficult to reverse four years of inhumane immigration policy. Hence, there is no easy fix. What is needed is comprehensive immigration reform, not only to meet the needs of migrants who arrive at the border, but providing undocumented immigrants with a path to citizenship. Even more importantly, ensuring that Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, DACA, is implemented so that children who come to the United States can become US citizens.
Biden’s first 100 days have passed, consisting mostly of vaccine deployment and reversal of Trump era policies. But, he cannot simply stop at reversing Trump’s horrendous legacy—he needs to create his own. What is needed now is to take the reins of the current immigration system and transform it into a humanitarian force that welcomes immigrants into the USA.