Joe Biden’s incoming administration must shift humanitarian policy priorities if it wants to remain the leader of the free world.
The United States has gained its position through leadership and philanthropy. However, due to a lack of participation in global agreements, increasingly harsh policies at the southern border, and individualistic actions, America has frayed the image set forth by the country for decades — from leading the world by example to leading by force.
Thus, Washington should rejoin international agreements to expand trust, visibility, and partnership. Furthermore, the country must remove harmful barriers for people seeking asylum and reinstate positive and humble leadership by addressing its own flaws.
The ‘America First’ Mindset
Previously seen as the leader of the free world, the US has struggled to maintain its humanitarian image in the recent past. An “America First” mindset has been at the forefront of decisions, resulting in a disinterest in cooperation and a failure to protect human rights.
The US’ reputation abroad has suffered, even among key allies and partners. The United Kingdom, France, Germany, Japan, Canada, and Australia have reached record low favorability rates towards the US compared to the past 20 years.
While a portion of this can be attributed to America’s response to the pandemic, the lack of trust must largely be blamed on the country’s removal from multiple international agreements. Since 2017, Washington has withdrawn from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), Paris Accord, Iran Deal, and Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. This inconsistency and lack of global allegiance fosters mistrust and individualism.
Addressing the Immigration Crisis
In addition to a disregard for international agreements, the US has failed to treat immigrants seeking asylum with respect and dignity, creating a hypocritical image for a country built from immigration.
In January 2019, the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) were put into effect, requiring migrants seeking asylum to remain in Mexico until their hearing. However, the US failed to acknowledge the dangers that threaten migrants sent to Mexico.
Asylum seekers face kidnapping, sexual assault, and homelessness while waiting in Mexico and the US provides no assistance during this time. Between April 2018 and May 2019, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) separated nearly 2,000 children from their parents with little planning on how to reunite them.
The US cannot expect to regain global trust until the issues at its own border are addressed.
Endangering Critical Partnerships
This lack of trust did not occur overnight but rather through continuous decisions prioritizing the American people over the good of the world.
The US policy of nationalism has developed cracks among previous critical partnerships. Washington has acted in bad faith, not only disrespecting allies through bad diplomacy but additionally imposing tariffs on Europe, Canada, and Japan which could lead to trade wars.
America is vulnerable to losing its position in the world, leaving room for other countries to enter. For example, China and Russia have begun to form ties in military, finance, and technology, increasing their global power and posing a large threat to the US.
Repairing the Damage
To combat its less than favorable, individualistic image, the US needs to rejoin global efforts. This includes the TPP, Paris Accord, Iran Deal, and Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.
Additionally, the US should host a democratic conference to convene with other democratic allies and address how to reach the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals together. With regard to the immigration crisis, the US should remove the MPP, allowing asylum seekers to find refuge in the US until their court date.
Most importantly, America should do everything within its power to reconnect missing or removed migrant children with their parents and stop any more separations from occurring.
While these actions are the most pressing for the US humanitarian policy, they are only scratching the surface of the work that the country must do to remain the leader of the free world.Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position of The Globe Post.