By: Dave Ghosh
When President-elect Joe Biden is sworn into office on January 20, 2021, many will cheer for a variety of reasons. It may be because the inauguration marks a change in rhetoric on the part of the leader of the United States. Or it may be because people want a different response to the pandemic. Or it may be because they were personally affected by some of President Trump’s policies. There will also be a lot of people who find themselves feeling disappointed; many of President Trump’s supporters bought into his vision of “law and order” and “mak[ing] America great again,” both which evoke memories of Ronald Reagan.
As of November 11, 2020, the results of the election are being disputed, and I acknowledge that. In this article, I do not plan to dive into the concept of voter fraud and whether it is applicable in this election. However, I hope to explain why I – a computer science major and a person of color – feel jolly about Biden’s victory and why tech companies should too.
It is no secret that President Trump has a complicated relationship with China. On a personal level, he has a long history of doing business in the country. For over a decade that lasted until 2015 at the very least, Trump “unsuccessfully pursu[ed] projects in China, operating an office there” and even “forg[ed] a partnership with a major government-controlled company.” Trump admitted to maintaining a bank account there but claims to have shut it down before his presidency. Once he became the leader of the United States, his relationship turned for the worse. In 2018, he engaged in a trade war with China that included setting tariffs and trade barriers; with this, he hoped to stop the country from engaging in “unfair trade practices.” To this day, the war is not officially over. As the coronavirus raged through the United States, President Trump was quick to blame China, even labeling the virus as the “China plague.” By labeling it in xenophobic terms, he not only hurt a lot of people but further deteriorated his relationship with an emerging superpower.
Tech companies have always relied on China to manufacture their products. In fact, Apple “relies on China for around 15% of its sale.” Other companies, such as Dell, Google, and hp all manufacture some portion of their products in the country. Because of the tariffs that came about from the trade war, manufacturing costs have gone up. In a lot of cases, higher manufacturing costs means a higher price to pay for the product. Companies have long considered moving operations back to the United States or pursuing business in another country like Vietnam, but none offer the benefits that China does. A few companies have already made the transition, but it has not been easy or seamless.
As of right now, we are not sure how President-elect Biden will approach the trade war. It is unlikely that the United States and China will have a good relationship during his presidency. Tensions will still be high, and both countries will be stubborn on their positions. However, we do know that Biden will have a calmer, more predictable rhetoric when engaging in discussions with China. For tech companies, this is a huge win. If they are still manufacturing in China, they can continue to do so with less trouble. This would be great news for the global economy and consumers.
While the United States’ bond with China is TBD, we are certain of how the Biden Administration will change the policy on immigration. President Trump spent a large part of his 2016 campaign advocating to “build a wall” between the United States and Mexico to stop illegal immigrants and drugs from crossing over the border. In 2017, he began separating families near the border as a part of the “zero tolerance” immigration policy. Additionally, he signed Executive Order 13769 in 2017, preventing refugees from entering the country. This was eventually replaced with Executive Order 13780, which added more detail on who can enter the United States and who cannot. While one could argue that Trump was trying to preserve national security with all these measures, it appears that much of it was fueled by xenophobia and racism. He has repeatedly said that “immigrants steal jobs.”
President-elect Biden, on the other hand, has a very different stance on immigration. He plans to protect undocumented immigrants who came to the United States, reduce the inhumane treatment a lot of them have been subjected to and help refugees. We are not fully sure how Biden will balance work visas given the pandemic, but we should remain optimistic given his other plans. In fact, Biden plans to remove the cap on “’recent graduates of PhD programs in STEM fields in the US.’” This tremendously benefits tech companies because the influx of talent to their companies will be the best of the best. By no means am I suggesting that people in the United States are not capable of accomplishing great things but having an open immigration policy promotes competition. There are many brilliant people out there, and they are being denied the right to express their ideas in a country that is supposed to promise opportunity. Additionally, the idea that immigrants are “stealing jobs” is completely false.
President Trump’s stance on immigration is one that deeply hurts me because I do not know how far he would have taken it if he was elected for a second term. My parents immigrated here a few decades ago because they had dreams and expectations, and they wanted the opportunity to fulfill them; that is exactly what the United States provided them. To know that Trump wants to ban people from many countries from coming to the United States makes me think of the “what-if” scenario where my parents would be unable to come here because they could not get green cards. There are many people in that situation and many in worse situations right now.
Ultimately, Biden’s victory is the best thing for tech companies and a lot of prospective employees.