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By Tess Klugewicz

Freshman, GW

President Joe Biden closed his victory speech on November 7th, 2020, by powerfully saying  “Let us be the nation that we know we can. A nation united, a nation strengthened. A nation healed.” Now that we are almost halfway into Biden’s first year in office, we should not only recognize his successes, but hold his administration accountable for its failures as well — specifically on immigration policy, the Iran nuclear deal, and the $15 minimum wage. 

 

In March 2021, Democratic Congressman Henry Cueller released images of an overcrowded migrant facility at the border, which was holding almost twice its intended capacity. While over 15,000 migrant children are currently suffering in detention centers at the border, the Biden administration has placed the issue on the back burner. They have failed to provide safe living conditions for migrant children and have forbidden media access to these detention facilities. Whatever their immigration status, no child should be forced to sleep on a mattress on the floor with a foil blanket for warmth; no child should be held in these dirty and unsafe conditions for 72 hours with no relief. Biden has not yet lived up to his campaign promises of a “fair and humane” immigration system. 

 

 Biden’s failure to rejoin the Iran nuclear agreement has also been a stain on his presidency. Following the U.S. withdrawal from the agreement, and the continued failure to recommit by President Biden, Iran has exceeded the agreement’s established limits of uranium enrichment. President Biden’s inaction could plausibly lead to a foreign policy crisis in the near future, as Iranians become increasingly frustrated by U.S. sanctions, shown by the 2019 and 2020 protests that have caused sanctions on the Iranian militia.  

 

President Biden’s most poignant failure thus far comes with his folding on the $15 minimum wage. In a CBS interview with Norah O’Donnell in February of 2021, Biden stated, “I put it in [the stimulus package] but I don’t think it’s going to survive.” The $15 minimum wage is essential for reversing decades of wage inequality, reducing the overall lives and health of Americans, and closing racial earning gaps. However, there has never been a time in which raising the minimum wage has been more essential, especially due to the economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Studies show that the U.S. GDP fell by 31.4%, a number not seen since the Great Depression. While the Biden administration claims this was a move Biden made to acknowledge the lack of support for the policy in the Senate, others believe he was scared off by the potential harm to a cooperative Congress due to Biden’s moderate and bipartisan history. 

The re-entry into the Iran nuclear arms deal is essential to preserving diplomatic relations and democracy both at home and abroad. Similarly, the administration must deliver on their promise to reform the U.S. immigration system into a humane and effective process. Additionally, to guarantee an economic bounce back from the COVID-19 pandemic, financial aid must be provided to the American people, which includes the $15 minimum wage. Most importantly, the administration must not only be held accountable, but must deliver, on their campaign promise to restore the “soul of the nation.” In the truthful words of Biden’s victory speech, “We have the opportunity to defeat despair and to build a nation of prosperity and purpose.” It is time to achieve this prosperity for all.

 

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