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The White House, Congress and Broken Promises

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In January, Joe Biden officially became the 46th president, bringing with him into the White House a promise to restore the soul of America, justice, freedom, and relief for all. Sadly, some of these promises have already been broken. Shortly after the election, I discussed the sorry state of our union and urged the nation to hold the then-president-elect accountable. I stand by that statement, and so should millions of others impacted by the promises he has already broken. 

One of Biden’s key immigration promises was to stop deportations for the first 100 days of his presidency. His administration attempted to enact this policy on his first full day in office — an effort that was struck down by a Trump-appointed judge. The policy does not require deportations to resume at the previous pace, however, which is a point of contention for immigrant-rights groups. A widespread Instagram post claimed that Biden deported 26,248 migrants. Though the number is disputed, ICE data shows a similar number of people who were deported thus far in the 2021 fiscal year. 

One undisputed fact is that the Biden administration is continuing “mass expulsions” under the Title 42 rule invoked by the Trump administration, meaning that any undocumented immigrant can be expelled from the United States on grounds not related to their immigration status. People expelled under the rule are sent home for posing a “health risk.” Should they return home, some will likely be killed by means of persecution, starvation, or disease. Why is the United States still expelling them? We have the capacity and resources to care for those who become sick with COVID-19, and our only solution is to deport them?

Another promise already broken by the administration is regarding the economic relief meant to combat the effects of the pandemic on everyday Americans. The $15 minimum wage proposal was struck down by the Senate parliamentarian, days after the president told state governors that the wage increase was unlikely to happen, insisting on fighting for it another time. People need assistance now. In fact, they’ve needed it for years, and the fact that the federal minimum wage has stayed the same since 2009 is appalling. 

Why are Biden and the Democrats conceding defeat after the ruling? In 2001, the Senate parliamentarian was fired by Republicans for rulings that made it hard for them to pass their own legislation. Interestingly enough, this was also in an evenly divided Senate. Democrats were elected by an ever-so-slim majority of the American people to push through and pass their agenda, so why aren’t they?

It only brings forth the question of whether or not they were serious about helping people in the first place, and their lack of willingness to fight doesn’t help their cause. Americans are still without their $1400 stimulus check, which was initially promised as $2000 but lowered due to the $600 checks sent out by the most recent aid package, which now seems like a distant memory. It’s disappointing that Democrats fought harder to secure the nomination of scandal-ridden Neera Tanden, which ultimately failed, than they did to secure aid for the millions who so desperately need it.

That isn’t to say that we should not give Biden credit where credit is due, because he has already done some great things. He started the process of ending the family separation policy enacted by the Trump administration at the U.S.-Mexico border. He lifted the ban on transgender Americans serving in the military and lifted the Muslim ban. It is also notable to mention that Biden is not the only president who has broken promises, and it is still pretty early into his administration. Barack Obama did not close Guantanamo Bay, and Donald Trump failed to get Mexico to pay for his 47 miles of new “wall” at the border. But when it comes to policies that would require some fighting, President Biden has instead retreated.

The presidency is a hard job, and given how divided Washington is right now, there’s no doubt about it. None of this is to say the Biden presidency is a failure, because it isn’t. Biden is making efforts to keep his promises, and whether they are struck down by Congress or the Courts, at least he tried. However, the lack of action on immigration, the weak fight Democrats put up for a wage increase, and the stalling of an aid bill that brings $1400, not $2000 relief checks to the American people, embodies the idea that simply trying is much different than trying your best, which Biden and Congressional Democrats are not doing. Americans need help now, and “trying” is not going to help anyone.
Moh Samhouri is an Opinion Staff Writer. He can be reached at samhourm@uci.edu.