LIBERTYVILLE, Illinois — On Dec 14, the electoral college confirmed Joe Biden’s presidential victory. Biden is set to take office in January and promises to hit the ground running with an aggressive 100-day plan. Regarding internal issues, Biden’s work will be at the regular pace of any president given the democratic checks and balances of the U.S. government. However, when it comes to foreign policy matters, President Biden will make decisions independent from the rest of the government.
Joe Biden’s campaign promises will have America’s foreign policy shift across all issues, from ending conflicts to opening doors. A more comprehensive foreign policy plan does not automatically translate into benefits for the poor. However, Biden’s foreign policy agenda comes at a time when global collaboration is critical to combat the pandemic and get back on track to meet the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.
Temporary Protected Status (TPS) is a federal protective measure granted to foreign nationals in the U.S. whose country of origin is deemed too dangerous to return. TPS allows eligible individuals to work and reside in the U.S. legally until they can return to a safe country. Biden has promised to review the existing TPS for countries currently on the list and expand it to include Haitians and Venezuelans in the U.S.
While TPS would seem to benefit individuals, many impoverished families in the listed countries rely on the money their family members send them from abroad. For example, one in four Honduran families receives money from members working abroad. An estimated total of $80 billion reached desperate Latin American families from family members working abroad. This is a necessary transfer to keep these economies alive. Expanding TPS to citizens of two desperate countries would potentially ease the desperate economic situation of many families in Venezuela and Haiti.
Refocus on Women’s Rights
Another promise made by the Biden campaign is a “return to a government-wide focus of uplifting the rights of women and girls at home and around the world, including by focusing on measures to address gender-based violence internationally.” Women and girls are disproportionally affected by cycles of poverty because of increased violence, discrimination, economic dependence, lack of education and other factors. Women also account for a greater percentage of the world’s poor.
Addressing women’s and girls’ issues worldwide directly addresses issues of poverty. Providing opportunities for education to girls in situations of poverty equips them with the necessary tools to become independent women. Therefore, in the future, they can contribute equally to the country’s leadership and economy.
Moreover, training programs enable women in situations of domestic violence to become economically independent and may provide a means of escape from their abusers. At its core, Biden’s programs to “uplift the rights of women and girls” is an inherent promise to address poverty.
Less Fire, More Handshakes
Biden’s foreign policy promises to bring an end to “Forever Wars” in Afghanistan and the Middle East, leaving behind only the necessary troops to continue the missions on recognized terrorist groups. In place of firepower, Biden plans to revamp American diplomacy. Diplomacy, along with aid, has proven to be more effective in the protection of democracy and poverty reduction. In particular, Biden’s campaign website has singled out the case in Central America:
“For example, as president, Biden will launch a top-to-bottom review of our funding to Central America to determine how we can build on a successful initiative from the Obama-Biden administration that secured concrete commitments from the leaders of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras to take on the corruption, violence and endemic poverty that drive migration.”
Diplomacy and international relations are extremely important right now. Joe Biden’s promise to combat the pandemic depends largely on his ability to work alongside other international leaders to slow the spread of the virus and distribute the vaccine.
Moreover, the United States’ presence is of particular importance in transnational governmental bodies that have been responsible for supporting poverty-reduction programs across the world, such as the U.N. and the WHO. Biden has indicated an increased commitment to these organizations.
Public Outreach for Diplomacy
Biden’s foreign policy means a positive outlook for the fight against global poverty. The incoming president’s overall agenda will reduce poverty by opening more avenues for productive diplomacy and appropriate legislation while upholding the rights of the most vulnerable. What remains to be seen is the execution of his agenda. However, American citizens can see that Biden’s foreign policy plays out as promised by contacting the new White House staff to see that the U.S. continues its commitment to fighting global poverty.
–Luis Gonzalez Kompalic