Prof Knight: Expect changes in immigration policy with Biden/Harris win

US President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. Biden will become the 46th president of the United States of America. - Joe Biden Facebook Page
US President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. Biden will become the 46th president of the United States of America. - Joe Biden Facebook Page

The news of Democrat Joe Biden and running mate Kamala Harris being declared US President-elect and US vice president-elect respectively means a lot of things to a lot of people.

The Biden/Harris ticket won the presidential election on November 7 with 279 electoral college votes over president Donald Trump’s 214.

Many might wonder what this win means for Caribbean especially as it relates to issues of climate change and immigration. University of Alberta Professor of International Relations Andy Knight said in a phone interview, people can expect, at least by January 20, a return to the ways of the Barack Obama administration. Biden was the vice president of the Obama administration.

“Joe Biden basically wants to undo what the Trump administration has been trying to do which is to sort of erase the policies that were adopted by the Obama administration.” He said people will see a much more “sensible” immigration policy that, “does not place so much emphasis on building walls.”

The Biden/Harris website says that Biden will move to immediately reverse the “Trump administration’s cruel and senseless policies that separate parents from their children” at the US border and protect dreamers and their families among others. Knight said a clear path to citizenship should also be a part of the Biden immigration policy.

He believes there will be efforts to address the issue of Venezuela. “In Venezuela, we have a situation where the strangulation of Venezuela through US foreign policy under the Trump-administration led to the migration of several Venezuelans. In Columbia for example there have been 1.6 million migrants from Venezuela.

“In TT, there have been over 60,00 Venezuelan refugees and asylum seekers. So I think what we will see is a reversal of the Trump administration policy of the harsh sanctions on Venezuela.” Knight said he suspects that policies addressing human trafficking, gender-based violence and anti-corruption efforts will continue.

He also believes that the “divide and rule conquering approach to Caricom” is going to change. The Biden administration’s return to the Paris Agreement - the UN’s framework convention on climate change - would be a good thing for the region and small island developing states. The Trump administration officially left the Paris Agreement on November 4. Biden tweeted on November 4 that in exactly 77 days the Biden administration will rejoin it.

For Newsday columnist and head of the Institute for Gender and Development Studies (IDGS) at UWI’s St Augustine campus Dr Gabrielle Hosein the historic win of Harris as the US’ first female vice president and the first woman of colour to hold such an office is inspiring to women and girls everywhere. She said, “I think that whenever a woman breaks a glass ceiling that has held for so long in history anywhere in the world that women and girls all over the world are inspired to believe that those barriers can be broken wherever it is those women and girls are.”

She added that it is important that Harris’ mixed-race background - both Afro-Caribbean and Indian - not only in a sense reflects a very Caribbean reality of belonging to multiple communities and being able to understand the problems of anti-black racism in the US as well as understand the challenges that immigrants face. “I don’t know if we’ve seen in the US a leader who can bring such connection and experience to the way that she may engage in foreign policy or in helping to heal what is obviously a traumatised country as much as she can given the kinds of systemic inequalities that remain.” Asked if she expects to see a change in how immigrants are treated from the region, Hosein said she could not say. Foreign and Caricom Affairs Minister Dr Amery Browne in a WhatsApp response to Newsday said, “TT’s relationship with the US has remained healthy over the years and we look forward to working with the incoming US administration.” He added that as Caricom’s next chair starting in 2021, the Prime Minister has “carefully noted the fact that the incoming US Vice President is a lady with Caribbean roots and heritage.”


"Prof Knight: Expect changes in immigration policy with Biden/Harris win"

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