President Biden, just pick up your damn pen

Scout Hutchinson, Columnist

President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris have now been in office for 100 days. Like many before them, the first 100 days can set a precedent for the next four years. It is our first glimpse into whether or not the Biden-Harris administration will create real change through reform and legislation instead of leaving their empty promises on the campaign trail. Sadly, when it comes to immigration reform on the border and refugee programs, Biden seems to be all talk. 

This is not to say that President Biden has achieved nothing within the last 100 days. We have seen immense success in mass vaccination rollout in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. He also gave many hope by signing an executive order lifting the travel ban on people from majority-Muslim countries, and he signed an executive order to “preserve and fortify” DACA

However, we must understand that these accomplishments are not enough to overturn the racist anti-immigration legislation enacted by the Trump administration and previous administrations before him. Biden promised immense immigration reform, and yet, during the last 100 days he has barely started, and people are paying the price. 

Biden has introduced an immigration reform bill to Congress, which if passed could create clearer pathways to citizenship, keep families together, prioritize smarter border control and improve immigration court proceedings. However, all of this at the moment is fluff caught up in the stagnant process that is our legislative branch. Like many of his promises, reuniting families at the border has yet to be achieved, because families are still separated and are continuing to be separated.

Illustration by Eli Rodriguez.

Throughout the campaign, Biden also continued to promise that once in office he would overturn Donald Trump’s racist restrictions and change the historically low refugee limit from 15,000 people to 62,500 people. Yet, last week or so Biden has stated that he was going to keep the limit at 15,000, then retracted that statement, to ultimately do nothing. Right now thousands of refugees — according to the New York Times, roughly 33,000, — have already been approved and are in a state of limbo waiting for Biden to truly just pick up a pen and sign the presidential determination that would revise Trump’s rules. 

Nothing has happened. If you listen to any White House press briefings with Jen Psaki, it is obvious that the administration has no valid reason for why they have stalled. Instead, it has become increasingly clear that Biden’s moral convictions have faltered due to worry about reactions from conservatives on the increase of asylum seekers at the border — many of whom are children — alongside an increase of the refugee population. The administration has also claimed that both of these situations are intertwined due to federal resources. However, for many that argument is not persuasive. 

This is not to say that immigration reform is as easy as one signature from a very powerful old white guy. While we need long-lasting change through legislation that will allow for families to feel a sense of security and protection, families do not have the time to wait for legislation to be passed in Congress. 

Biden has the power to make people’s lives better right now. Not in months or years, but right now. It is not something that he should do. It is his job. It is what he was hired to do. He made promises that he has yet to fulfill. This should not even be up for debate. Re-elections and popularity amongst moderates and conservatives are not what we were promised. We were promised true reform, and like many people my age who #settledforBiden, we do not forget. 

In the eloquent words of John Oliver, “Pick up a Fucking Pen and Do the Right Thing!”