We’re not throwing away our shot: What Biden’s victory means for America and international education

We’re not throwing away our shot: What Biden’s victory means for America and international education

Biden Harris Victory 3

November 7, 2020 became a historic day in US politics. While votes are still being finalized and tallied, the calculations have made it possible to officially announce that Joe Biden will be our next president and Kamala Harris will be our first female vice president.

US presidential elections reflect two key points about the state of the nation; they bring to light what we primarily reject with our current administration and what we want to see change moving forward. Particularly with the current Trump administration, the 2020 election was a rejection of the rhetoric and policies implemented over the past four years. Across party lines between moderate Republicans and more left-leaning progressives, people campaigned together to elect Joe Biden and Kamala Harris to restore the decorum of America.

What Biden has already announced for his first 100 days and what that means for international students

After a collective sigh of relief, the US and many around the world are looking to see what the Biden administration will strike down as they enter the oval office. Biden has already released what he strives to achieve in the first 100 days. International students will be happy to see that high on his list are forming a COVID-19 task force, taking down Trump’s controversial immigration policies, making more paths for citizenship and reforming our visa system.

Establishing a COVID-19 task force

Since COVID-19 has drastically changed how we travel and conduct in-person courses, the president-elect’s plans for a COVID-19 task force can help address how student life in the US will improve under his administration. He’s recently announced his expert team in epidemiology, which would include a former surgeon general, a former Food and Drug Administration (FDA) commissioner and professor of medicine and epidemiology from Yale. Increasing testing and strategizing the rollout of a potential vaccine once it's ready for the public are both highlights of his strategy to combat COVID-19.

Speaking of vaccines, as of November 16 there are two promising vaccines in development. While we know Pfizer’s has been 90% effective, Moderna just announced their vaccine is 94.5% effective against the virus. The vaccines are estimated to be ready before the end of the year for the most vulnerable populations in the US. US Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar speaks of the optimism the vaccine development news brings to Americans and those wishing to come to the US on the national morning television show, Good Morning America.

“Here we are, 10 months from the date when this virus hit out shores,” Azar reflected, “and we’ve got a second 90% plus effective vaccine for the American people. This is really a historic day.”

The pandemic and Trump’s mishandling of the impacts of COVID-19 on our nation, international reputation, public health and economy were major factors that pushed voters to elect Joe Biden. How a president handles a crisis makes a large impression on whether the incumbent is assured to be reelected or out the door. The American people have spoken to turn the proverbial car around and select a candidate who will tackle the virus so we can safely return to adapted pre-pandemic normalcy. International students can rest assured that the next inaugurated president will take the pandemic seriously. The study abroad adventure they signed up for will not be such a distant memory. Our campuses have already taken steps for students to be safe on campus, and the next administration will support COVID-19 safety on the federal level. Biden’s goal is that the US will be united in fighting the spread of the virus. 

On July 7, 2020, Biden tweeted, “Across the world, people come to this country with unrelenting optimism and determination toward the future. They study here, innovate here, they make America who we are.” International students can look forward to a president whose policies do not actively work against them, but instead embrace them as a voice in our nation.

Rescind travel bans

America has long been a nation of immigrants, an identity that was thrashed under the Trump administration. Biden has acknowledged that history and seeks to modernize it. Not even in the first 100 days, but on his first day Biden has stated he will make sweeping changes to immigration legislation. He has publicly committed to eliminate Trump’s ban on immigration from primarily Muslim-majority countries. Since the travel bans were executive orders, it’s easily within Biden’s power to quickly overturn these orders immediately.

Reinstate and extend DACA

Additionally, Biden has vowed to reinstate DACA (deferred action for childhood arrivals), make it permanent and introduce a path to citizenship. Similarly, he aims to create new immigration legislation that would extend a process for citizenship to 11 million people who have been living in the US without proper documentation or citizenship.

Reform the visa system

Within immigration reform, Biden’s also released plans for reforming the visa system and the visa program for temporary workers in select industries. His visa reform would “expand the number of high-skilled visas and eliminate the limits on employment-based visas by country.”

International doctoral students can look forward to long-term stay in the US based on Biden’s belief that “foreign graduates of a US doctoral program should be given a green card with their degree and that losing these highly trained workers to foreign economies is a disservice to our own economic competitiveness.”

Inauguration day may not come until January 20, 2021, but the election results demonstrate the direction of the nation for the following four years and a renewed clarity of character. Trump lost the popular vote in 2016, and he lost it again in 2020, which speaks volumes for how the majority of citizens view his agenda. Now, in 2020, we have the electoral college votes to support a candidate who will fight for equality, believes in the incredible strengths of immigrants, and the contributions of those who choose to study here for a brighter future.

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