Course corrections in United States policies for President-Elect Joe Biden

Immediate reversal of Donald Trump’s disastrous decisions

Politics

November 8, 2020

/ By / New Delhi

Course corrections in United States policies for President-Elect Joe Biden

A key decision that Biden is already committed to, in his election manifesto and policy documents, relates to the anti-immigrant policies of Donald Trump

Though he had only one, four-year term in the White House, outgoing President of the United States Donald Trump has left behind a trail of disastrous decisions that President-Elect Joe Biden should reverse as soon as he takes charge on January 20, 2021.

Day after he was declared winner in one of the most controversial and hotly contested elections in living memory, the President-Elect of United States Joe Biden said he would immediately reverse the ban on travel from 13-odd Muslim majority nations that Trump had initiated almost as soon as he took charge in 2017. Though it began by seven such nations, in no time Trump expanded that number to 13, even though his executive order was challenged several times in courts all over the United States and overruled by judges on occasions, until the US Supreme Court upheld a version of it in 2018.

But the bans can be easily set aside as they were not under any laws promulgated by the US Congress and instead, they were issued by executive order and presidential proclamation. The Republicans could try and delay the process of unwinding these bans by their own legal challenges.

Another key decision that Biden is already committed to, in his election manifesto and policy documents, relates to the anti-immigrant policies of Donald Trump. Over the years, Trump had promised to clamp down hard on continued influx of migrants, by building a wall on the border with Mexico as well as reversed policies of previous Presidents to grant US citizenship to the children of illegal migrants who were born in the country. His harsh policies towards illegal migration led to horrific scenes of children and infants being separated from their parents and being lodged in foster homes while the parents were deported from the US. Dozens of Democrat-run cities and several states all around the country created safe haven zones for the migrants where the US Customs and Immigration Service officials were not allowed in and hence the migrants could live safely there. Some others made it easier for them to obtain basic documentations like driving licenses and also provided facilities like housing, access to education and healthcare as well as a dole to enable them to lead normal lives.

Now, all that may belong to the past. US President-elect Joe Biden will work towards providing a roadmap to American citizenship for nearly 11 million undocumented immigrants, including over 500,000 from India, and will also establish a minimum admission number of 95,000 refugees annually. “He (Biden) will immediately begin working with Congress to pass legislative immigration reform that modernises our system, with a priority on keeping families together by providing a roadmap to citizenship for nearly 11 million undocumented immigrants — including more than 500,000 from India,” the policy document of the Democratic party candidate said.

Reversing H1B Visa Cut

Another policy that Biden would need to attend to almost immediately is the sharp cut in the quotas for H1B visas, the work visas granted to skilled workers and of which Indian workers are the biggest beneficiaries, pocketing nearly 70 pc of the total visas issued year after year. The H1B visas are the backbone of the Indian ITES industry exports that reached close to USD 90 bn last year and of which nearly 50 pc were accounted for by the US market alone.

The H1B visa curtailment by Trump was widely criticised not just by foreign companies, but also by most of the US Big tech firms such as Google, Microsoft, Apple and Amazon who took the decision to the court where it is still pending. The US firms realise the key role that H1B visas have done in providing the best brains and skilled personnel for their use and going forward as artificial intelligence as machine learning become the keys of driving the economy of tomorrow on the back of Jobs of Future, the Silicon Valley needs thousands or even hundreds of thousands of trained big data analysts and AI and machine learning scientists to keep it fuelled for the future.

Paris Agreement & Climate Change

But one of the biggest priorities for the Biden Presidency should be the reversal of Trump’s disastrous call to exit the Paris Agreement on United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). In the past four years, Trump has taken several decisions to weaken and actually reverse several decades of climate friendly policies of his predecessors. These include weakening the Environment Protection Agency and the dozens of laws protecting the environment such as logging forests, laying down pipelines or allow fracking in eco-sensitive zones.

Biden needs to urgently bring the US, the world’s second largest emitter of carbon, back into the Paris Agreement and even take the global leadership back again by committing to much larger and steeper cuts in its own emissions of carbon and other greenhouse gases. At a time when climate change is more than real and causing hundreds of billions of dollars in weather-related damages and taking hundreds of lives every year and the world is firmly on track to record at least a 3.5°C rise in temperatures instead of 1.5° since the beginning of industrialisation, it needs a much stronger commitment and leadership than what’s been visible. Here Biden can come and stake the US position for leadership again.

Commitment to UN Organisations

Trump also weakened the US commitment to several United Nations Organisations, most notably the World Trade Organisation and the World Health Organisation. While Trump has blocked WTO from functioning normally by blocking the nomination of a new head as well as new judges to allow the body to function, he blamed the WHO for mismanaging the coronavirus pandemic. He also weakened the US commitment to nuclear treaties signed with Russia, leading to a threat another race in weapons of mass destructions, while engaging in a high-tension drama with China.

Trump also unilaterally pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal, pushing the country to restart its programme for uranium enrichment, leading to increasing tensions with Israel and several Gulf Cooperation Council countries. Biden would need to revisit all of these policy blunders, bring the WTO back to a functioning and effective mode as well as restart funding of WHO and re-initiate talks with Iranian leadership as well as other powers, notably the European Union, Russia and China, to get Iran to agree to a new deal and also re-engage with Russians and Chinese on the nuclear arms race, in order to bring the global strategic tensions down.

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