What Biden Inauguration Means For Kenya

  • US President Joeseph Biden Jr (left) and President Uhuru Kenyatta (right).
    US President Joeseph Biden Jr (left) and President Uhuru Kenyatta (right).
  • Joseph Biden Jr will become the 46th President of the United States of America effective January 20, 2021, following his inauguration at the Capitol Building, Washington DC.

    This brings to an end, the era of Donald Trump which a number of Kenyans have little fond memories of.

    Over recent years, Kenya has boasted a huge diaspora population, largely in the United States, out of which, the two countries have fostered their diplomatic ties and earned revenue as a result.

    According to the World Bank, remittances by Kenyans in the diaspora hit Kh331.9 billion as of November 2020.

    US President-elect Joe Biden addressing a public forum at the Kenyatta International Conference Center (KICC) in Nairobi on June 9, 2010.
    US President-elect Joe Biden addressing a public forum at the Kenyatta International Conference Center (KICC) in Nairobi on June 9, 2010.

    Under the Trump administration, immigration policies in the US were reviewed, lowering the number of Kenyans moving to the US. 

    The Trump administration also cracked down on illegal immigrants, affecting a number of Kenyans who had overstayed in the country after the expiry of their visas. Some of those affected were deported while others were forced to move to cities run by liberal governments that declined to support the Trump administration against immigrants. 

    On Thursday, January 14, Kenyan asylum seekers were deported back to the country marking the final batch of deportation under the Trump regime.

    However, Kenyans may have a reason to smile after incoming President Biden assured the world that his administration would review immigration policies in the country, some of which he referred to as 'inhumane'.

    Kenya ranks among countries with the highest immigration rate to the US from Africa and will reap big should the policies be reviewed.

    According to the New York Times, Biden proposed an eight-year pathway to US citizenship for immigrants without legal status as opposed to the current 13-year pathway.

    Under his proposal, Biden seeks to restore and expand programmes for asylum seekers and refugees in the country.

    "It will be about creating a pathway for people to earn citizenship. We're going to reduce the time from what is now has been currently 13 years to eight years. We are going to expand protections for Dreamers and DACA recipients,” Vice President to be, Kamala Harris, stated during an interview with Univision.

    "These are some of the things that we're going to do on our immigration bill, and we believe it is a smarter and a more humane way of approaching immigration," she added.

    In April 2020, Trump suspended the green card lottery programme for the rest of the year which took effect on June 24, that year. 

    CICNews on June 22, 2020, reported that his administration proposed an Executive Order which sought to protect about 525,000 jobs held by foreign nationals.

    According to a Bloomberg report in 2018, Kenyan immigrants in the US were ranked as the third most hardworking and most skilled immigrant groups in the US with a  73.4 percent score. Only behind Ghanaians and Bulgarians.

    The report also indicated that Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria and Nepal had the highest number of citizens pursuing higher education in the US after Saudi Arabia.

    Following Biden's promise to review immigration policies, Kenyans are expected to get opportunities to immigrate and work in the US, while those in the country, will get an equal opportunity at citizenship.

    During the Trump administration, Kenya and the US launched negotiations on July 8, 2020, with the aim of crafting a comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (FTA) that will serve as a model for similar pacts across Africa.

    President Uhuru Kenyatta while bidding farewell to former US Ambassador to Kenya Kyle McCarter, stated that he was determined to conclude the FTA deal between the US and Kenya.

    Biden has not indicated his position on the deal but is generally expected to have better relations with African countries which Trump had condescendingly referred to as "sh*thole countries". 

    “We appreciate what has been achieved through AGOA, but it is time we moved to much more closer trade arrangements that are mutually beneficial. We will not lose focus on concluding the FTA,” President Kenyatta assured.

    He thanked the US government for the support Kenya continues to receive in the security sector especially the fight against terrorism and the fight against Covid-19.

    President Uhuru Kenyatta
    President Uhuru Kenyatta addresses the nation on Thursday, December 31, 2020