By Shohom Chakraborty
This January marked two years since Joe Biden took office as the 46th President of the United States. His term thus far has consisted of shifts in government policy as well as the occurrence of national and international events. Examples include the killing of Ayman al-Zawahari, the successor of Osama bin Laden as leader of al-Qaeda, the terrorist group responsible for the September 11 attacks. He has also given billions in monetary and military aid to Ukraine to help fight the ongoing Russian invasion. As for changes in legislation, one of the most notable is the Inflation Reduction Act, which invests over $300 billion to fight climate change and provides major tax breaks to help decrease the cost of clean energy. More recently, President Biden had his first work trip abroad in 2023.
President Biden’s trip in early January began with a visit to El Paso, a town in Texas, that shares a border with Mexico to the south. This was his first visit to the US-Mexico border since his inauguration into office. While in the city, the president spoke with local politicians and toured parts of the wall between the two nations built during the Trump administration. Although the visit to the border town was relatively brief, significant plans were unveiled for a $600 million investment toward improving the El Paso border crossing between Mexico and the US.
Artwork by Ann Aphraim
President Biden starts 2023 with a work trip to Mexico in hopes of resolving immigration issues.
Furthermore, during this visit, President Biden announced a new set of immigration policies. These major policy changes include permitting 30,000 migrants per month from the nations of Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela. Under these protocols, however, up to 30,000 people from these countries who attempt illegal border crossings may be sent to Mexico every month. These policies, aimed at handling the recent influx of migrants at the southern border, have received heavy backlash and bipartisan criticism. Southern Republicans stated that such plans would do little to handle the waves of new immigration at the border. On the contrary, the American Civil Liberties Union condemned President Biden for further tying his administration to Trump-era anti-immigrant policies through these proposals.
“Although I commend the Biden administration for acknowledging the immigrant crisis, I believe it is important to approach this issue cautiously and with empathy for those who choose to migrate. It remains yet to be seen how effectively such policies will both promote legal migration into the country and keep the border secure,” senior Alvin Reji said.
The president’s January trip continued with a visit to Mexico City, his first foreign trip of 2023. In the city, Biden attended a summit with Justin Trudeau, the prime minister of Canada, and Andres Manuel López Obrador, the president of Mexico. The North American leaders discussed many topics including the proposed migrant plans announced at El Paso. The Mexican president expressed support for the proposal, even offering to potentially accept more illegal migrants. In addition, trade and manufacturing was a major topic for this summit, as the leaders of Mexico and Canada expressed their concerns about the increase in American domestic manufacturing, which may potentially leave the country’s neighbors behind. Drug trafficking, energy and poverty were also significant topics of discussion during this summit of North American leaders.
“Since Biden took office at an already tough time for the nation, I believe it’s difficult to truly decide whether he is doing enough for the country as a whole. I think it’s unwise to credit Biden for every positive event and to blame him for every negative event,” freshman Zarif Abrar said.
On Tuesday, February 7, President Biden addressed both chambers of congress with his State of The Union Address. During his speech Biden spoke on many points, ranging from healthcare and the economy to infrastructure. Biden also addressed some Republicans proposing cuts to social security and healthcare. Biden also touted improvements to the economy under his leadership. Some Republicans viewed the address as an opportunity to express their dissent by heckling. For example, Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) booed Biden and yelled “liar” during his address. This heckling sparked discussion regarding the ability of speaker McCarthy to keep his party in line, especially considering he warned Republicans to not “misbehave.”
Ultimately, President Biden’s visit to Mexico as well as the changes he’s implemented has brought mixed opinions on his leadership.