Oxfam applauded President Biden’s expected efforts on his first day in office to roll back some of the Trump administration’s most unjust policies, including ending the discriminatory Muslim Ban, rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement, joining global efforts to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, and proposing sweeping immigration legislation that better reflects the values of our country.
“On the campaign trail, presidential candidate Biden promised to take urgent action to put an end to some of the most damaging policies enacted by President Trump. On his first day in office, President Biden did just that, pointing our country on a new, more just course,” said Abby Maxman, Oxfam America’s President and CEO.
Oxfam praised President Biden’s move to officially rejoin the Paris Agreement on climate change, as it is the best way to work with other countries to address the climate crisis.
“The US’s exit from the Paris agreement was indefensible, pointless, and self-defeating. The US is back at the table now, with a renewed mandate for ambitious global climate action and urgency to make up for lost time,” said Kristen Hite, Oxfam America’s Associate Director for Climate Change. “It’s got to be an all-out sprint for bold and inclusive action that protects people and planet.”
While rejoining the Paris agreement is crucial move, Oxfam warned that it is really just the first step. The climate crisis is affecting every country and every continent, but it is the poorest people who are least responsible for the problem who suffer the most. That’s why reducing emissions must be coupled with efforts to help frontline communities cope with mounting climate impacts.
“Addressing the needs of the vulnerable must be at the heart of the Biden administration’s climate agenda, continued Hite. “The Biden administration must step up to do its fair share to address climate change here at home and enable the poorest and most vulnerable around the world to do the same for themselves. We must bridge borders and stand up for the right to a livable planet for all.”
Oxfam also praised President Biden’s executive order repealing the discriminatory Muslim ban that was rooted in divisiveness, fearmongering, and hate.
“By repealing the Muslim Ban on day one, President Biden has made it clear to the world that banning people based on their identity does not reflect American values, said Isra Chaker, Oxfam America’s Migration and Protection Campaign lead. “No community should be discriminated against because of their religion or where they come from.”
President Trump’s administration waged an all-out assault on the principles of tolerance and inclusion that are the bedrock of this country founded by refugees and immigrants. Oxfam called on Congress to ensure that no future president can impose similar discriminatory bans by passing the landmark NO BAN Act.
Oxfam also applauded the comprehensive, progressive new immigration measures President Biden is spearheading, which include rebuilding the US refugee program, creating a pathway to citizenship for undocumented people, and increased efforts to address the root causes of forced migration in Central America.
“We hope this is the beginning of a wholesale repudiation of the anti-immigrant, anti-refugee, anti-Muslim mentality of the Trump administration,” said Chaker. “President Biden can save lives, restore America’s proud legacy as a refuge for people fleeing persecution, and unleash the contributions of immigrants by undertaking a number of reforms that don’t just go back to the pre-Trump era but move forward to build a better, more just, and more humane immigration system.”
Oxfam has worked in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras for decades and knows firsthand the importance of addressing the root cause of forced migration, including efforts to strengthen the rule of law, combat corruption, confront violence, strengthen democratic governance and respect for human rights, and address the structural causes of poverty and inequality.
“Every year, thousands of people in Central America are forced to leave their homes to escape violence, criminal gangs, instability, poverty, and economic hardship,” said Chaker. “Until the root causes are addressed and the situation in these countries improves, people will continue to flee in search of safety and a better life.”
Oxfam also praised President Biden’s reversal of the withdrawal process from the World Health Organization. This unprecedented pandemic calls for a response that engages with experts and promotes local leadership throughout communities, carried out with a sense of shared humanity. By recommitting to the World Health Organization today, President Biden is recommitting the United States to the global fight against the threat of global pandemics like COVID-19.
“A global pandemic requires global solutions. As this global pandemic has only reinforced, America can only be great – and safe – when we work with others to solve the problems facing humanity,” said Noah Gottschalk, Oxfam America’s Global Policy Lead. “No one individual, community, or country can deal with this crisis alone. Only international cooperation and solidarity can save lives and restore the global economy. We must work together, in our communities and across borders, with dignity and compassion. No one is safe until everyone is safe.”
Oxfam called on the new Biden administration to build on these critical first day actions with wind in their sails. This includes taking action to enact rules to protect the health of workers at risk because of COVID-19, ending US support for the war in Yemen, and doing everything possible to make a People’s Vaccine free, fair and available as soon as possible to everyone in the US and around the world. Importantly, President-elect Biden must quickly work with Congress to enact a transformational COVID-19 recovery plan that helps families cope with the economic impacts of the pandemic; get people back to work; rein in corporate power; help rebuild our economy from the bottom up; and begin to tackle the economic; gender, and racial inequalities that have been exacerbated by this crisis, here and around the world.
“In the midst of a global pandemic and facing a climate crisis, we have an enormous task ahead of us, to rebuild while imagining something new,” said Maxman. “Now is not the time for half-measures or tinkering around the edges. Now is the time for bigger, bolder action that will deliver a more resilient and dignified future where everyone can thrive, not just survive.”