by Georges Budagu Makoko, Amjambo Africa Publisher
From the first day of his election campaign to the last day of his administration, former President Donald Trump targeted the vulnerable people who were forced to flee their unsafe countries and find new and safer places to call home. During his tenure, he signed more than 400 executive actions on immigration. These actions limited the number of asylum seekers and refugees admitted to the U.S., completely cut off entry from different countries, withdrew temporary protected status for immigrants, and expanded the public charge rule, among many other policy changes. These actions were traumatic for the immigrant population, and after the election of the Biden-Harris ticket, many expressed great relief at seeing a new administration taking control, and hope for better days ahead.
The shift to new policies was clear right away, when the Biden-Harris administration launched the first steps of a government effort to reform the U.S. immigration system immediately after the inauguration. Their first moves included the creation of a pathway to citizenship for the nearly 11 million undocumented immigrants living in and contributing to the U.S. economy.
President Joe Biden has promised to study and try to address the root causes of migration. This analysis of why immigrants decide to leave their homes and travel thousands of miles, often in perilous conditions, is essential. It is so much easier to live in your own country than a foreign country. Very few people wake up one day and decide to flee their country of origin, unless a calamity has occurred or conditions are unhealthy, and they feel they have no choice.
I grew up in DR Congo, a country devastated by war. Most Africans living in Maine also fled violence-ridden countries. As a nation, we need to think more deeply about the root causes of migration and help find effective solutions in the countries people are fleeing. If you have a water leak in your house, you don’t just clean up the mess and stop there – you work hard to find and repair the break in the pipe that’s causing the leak.
Unless the U.S. invests seriously in promoting peace in the countries where immigrants are coming from, people will continue to take the great risk of leaving their native homes, often forever. Goodwill alone will not solve such enormous problems. I encourage the U.S. government to invest resources in addressing the causes of the worldwide migration crisis.
When I talk to my relatives living in refugee camps in Uganda, Kenya, and Burundi, they tell me stories of horrific living conditions in the camps and of their desperation to find a safe and healthy place to raise their families. They have no hope of being able to return home any time soon. And the process of resettling in a new country takes years, sometimes as long as decades. I hope the Biden-Harris administration will do as they promise and invest in solving the root causes of immigration.