Biden makes first presidential trip to US-Mexico border as officials report surge in migrants

Biden makes first presidential trip to US-Mexico border as officials report surge in migrants

Biden makes first presidential trip to US-Mexico border as officials report surge in migrants

Joe Biden travels to El Paso, Texas today as his administration faces important questions about how to deal with the ongoing tide of thousands of Central and South Americans hoping to seek asylum in the United States each month.

The president’s trip marks his first trip to the U.S.-Mexico border as commander in chief, and comes especially as his administration is fighting in court to end Title 42, a controversial public health protocol used by both the Trump administration and also now used by his own as a legal justification for deporting migrants at the border.

The Biden administration has seen a significant upward trend since the president took office, most recently stopping more than 227,000 migrants by border officials in September, the most recent month for which data is available. More than 70,000 were reported under Title 42 this month.

In September 2021, 192,000 migrants were encountered by agents in the southwest border region, while there were only 57,674 encounters in September 2020.

The Biden administration just recently expanded that power to create a new policy authorizing US Customs and Border Protection to turn back migrants from multiple countries in hopes of stemming this tide; In October 2022, the system was invoked to turn away any Venezuelan migrants encountered at the border, with administration officials citing a massive surge of individuals and families from the South American country.

Then last week, Mr. Biden’s team expanded the policy, stating that it would now also affect all asylum seekers from Haiti, Cuba and Nicaragua. In any case, a new route has been set up for sponsored migrants to apply and be admitted.

But despite the expanded legal powers his administration is wielding thanks to Covid-19, Mr Biden’s team has come under criticism over the broader ongoing trend of thousands of migrants illegally crossing the border each month. Many encountered by US Customs and Border Protection are processed in detention centers and deported, while others are released to the United States.

The problem is fueled by several factors, including America’s long-neglected immigration legal framework, which lawmakers have tried and failed countless times to reform. Economic conditions, political instability and organized crime violence in Central and South America continue to be important drivers of migration to the north.

Vice President Kamala Harris has been appointed by Mr. Biden to lead his administration’s efforts to address these factors, but the White House’s efforts have yet to produce meaningful results. Meanwhile, Red leaders like Ron DeSantis of Florida and Greg Abbott of Texas continue to protest against alleged Democrat inaction and have organized bus caravans of recently arrived migrants to Democrat-run cities to draw media attention to the issue.

The prospect of getting immigration reform through Congress now looks bleaker than ever, thanks to a new narrow Republican majority in the House of Representatives, widely expected to be loyal to its most conservative members. It’s not clear what, if anything, the Biden administration plans, or could even do, to mitigate the trend other than reversing course and adopting migration control policies introduced by the Trump administration, which have been vociferously described as inhumane and effectiveness in actually dissuading people from migrating north.

According to the White House, the president plans to “assess border enforcement operations and meet with local officials who have been key partners in dealing with the historic numbers of migrants fleeing political repression and gang violence in Venezuela, Haiti, Nicaragua and Cuba.” , a clear nod to the four countries affected by his Title 42 expansion.

He told reporters last week that he hoped to wait for a final decision on the fate of Title 42 before his visit; The Supreme Court last month ordered it stand, but litigation over the directive continues.

“I wanted to make sure I knew what the outcome was, at least the near outcome, at Title 42 before I went under,” Biden said, acknowledging that such a plan was no longer viable. “I don’t like Title 42. But it’s the law now and I have to abide by it.”

Republicans have described Mr Biden’s trip as “nothing more than a photo op” in an official statement from the RNC. Ronna McDaniel, GOP Chairperson, is conducting her own return visit to the border at the same time that the President will be there.

The Texas governor, meanwhile, appeared on Fox Business Network to complain that he was not invited to attend Mr Biden’s visit to the Lone Star State until the very last moment. Mr Abbott has drawn Democratic contempt and accusations of cruelty with his program organizing bus caravans to transport groups of migrants to places like outside the Naval Observatory in Washington DC, where Ms Harris resides. In many cases, migrants have arrived at their destinations without warning in the middle of the night and in freezing conditions, with only local volunteer groups to assist them.

“Joe Biden didn’t call me,” Mr. Abbott aired to Maria Bartiromo Sunday morning futures. “He did not call me or his staff and either informed us of his visit or invited us.”

“[L]Last night we happened to get an email from one of my employees asking if I would be there to meet him on the tarmac,” the governor claimed.

Republican opposition to his visit and criticism of the president’s plans comes despite months of very public calls.

After Sunday’s trip to the border, Mr. Biden will fly to Mexico City to attend the summit of North American leaders and bilateral meetings with leaders of Mexico and Canada.

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