First Border visit for Biden Comes as Migrant Crisis Worsens

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Border Migrant Crisis

On Sunday, Biden met with border patrol officials at the city’s busiest crossing as part of a tour of enforcement activities. Following his stroll along the border barrier, he visited a migrant services facility to speak with government representatives, religious figures, and humanitarian organizations.

Border Migrant Crisis
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on October 17, 2022 in Beaumont, Texas. [Brandon Bell/Getty Images]

Biden Faces Stormy Border Politics

On Sunday, President Biden made his first trip to the southern border since his election two years ago to deflect criticism that his immigration policies have been unsuccessful and increasingly less humane than he promised.

This border city has become emblematic of the overwhelming number of asylum seekers at the U.S. border and the inability of the current system to cope with them. Due to the influx of migrants, El Paso’s mayor issued a state of emergency last month. Dozens of people slept on benches in the city’s downtown while temperatures dropped below freezing.

Just last week, President Joe Biden revealed that he would be traveling to the country as part of the upcoming presidential trip to Mexico City for the North American Leaders’ Summit, where migration across the hemisphere is expected to be an important topic of discussion.

When asked about his impressions of the trip, he replied, “They need a lot of resources.” In other words, we’re going to get it for them.

Several Congress members and law enforcement accompanied the president on his trip. A few days previously, he had introduced an immigration plan that would expediently remove migrants from the United States and prevent them from being eligible for asylum.

The idea hardly silenced Biden’s Republican detractors. Pro-immigrant organizations and even some Democratic partners have criticized it, claiming that it puts migrants at risk and weakens the humanitarian foundation of asylum.

Biden’s about-face on immigration illustrates the harsh reality of border politics.

Biden campaigned for the presidency on a platform of enacting immigration laws that are both effective and humane, promising to scrap Trump’s anti-immigrant measures if elected.

However, when the number of border arrests spiked, the Republican party seized the narrative. And Biden, who has declared his intention to run for reelection in 2024, has sought to rebut criticism of his immigration policy and the record number of immigration apprehensions the country has witnessed during his tenure.

Republicans have sought Biden for the nation’s immigration woes and criticized him for avoiding a trip to the southern border in his first two years in office.

Many Republican governors, including some, reportedly considering White House runs themselves, have sent migrants to liberal strongholds like New York City, Martha’s Vineyard, and even the sidewalk outside Vice President Harris’s home on Christmas Eve.

Abbott said Biden’s visit was “about two years too late and about $20 billion short of what needs to be done” on Fox News Channel’s “Sunday Morning Futures” with Maria Bartiromo. When asked for an explanation, he said, “He’s not going to achieve my solutions that will make the border safer and more secure and end illegal immigration.”

A Fox News opinion piece published on Saturday by a Republican senator from West Virginia, Shelley Moore Capito, said Biden should have made a border visit sooner. Even though “this checks a box,” as she put it, “it doesn’t even begin to alleviate the difficulties we are confronting there.”

Border Migrant Crisis
Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Christopher Wray (R) testifies with Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas before the House Homeland Security Committee on November 15, 2022 in Washington, DC. [Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images]

A Political Shift

For his part, Biden has pointed the finger at Congress, arguing that legislative action is the only long-term answer to the immigration situation. While unveiling the new immigration policies on Thursday, Obama blamed members of Congress for trying to score political points by ignoring his first and most recent funding requests for immigration reform.

On Thursday, President Joe Biden said, “If the most extreme Republicans continue to demagogue this issue and reject solutions, I’m left with only one choice: to act on my own, to do as much as I can on my own to try to change the atmosphere.”

Cuban, Nicaraguan, Venezuelan, and Haitian nationals have been overrepresented at the border recently; therefore, new regulations were implemented to address this.

Reflecting his newfound centrist politics, these measures will give Biden more leeway to offer legal entrance to tens of thousands of people from those countries.

However, illegal migrants from these countries who enter the United States face swift deportation to Mexico.

Biden’s immigration plan would reduce smuggling and other forms of border crossing.

Officials have stated that up to 30,000 migrants from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Venezuela will be accepted via “parole” every month, provided they have a financial sponsor in the United States.

It’s a considerable expansion of a parole program that had previously only accepted people from Venezuela and capped the number of Venezuelans at 24,000.

The reforms will likely result in fewer illegal immigrants from those four nations entering the United States and more illegal immigrants being returned to Mexico, which has committed to take 30,000 returnees a month.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which has been at the forefront of the legal battle to halt the expulsions since the Trump administration took office, has criticized Biden for relying on a public health policy from the pandemic era called Title 42. The ACLU argues that removing asylum seekers from the country will force them to travel to dangerous border cities, where they risk being kidnapped or killed.

The ACLU’s director of border strategies, Jonathan Blazer, said, “This knee-jerk expansion of Title 42 will put more lives in grave peril.”

On Sunday, on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Republican Representative Dan Crenshaw of Texas warned against blindly embracing the administration’s proposals, saying, “you’re just reprocessing them differently.”

Crenshaw remarked, “We will not be fooled into thinking that some policies that make it seem more streamlined, make it seem less chaotic, equals securing the border.”

Border Migrant Crisis
Former US President Donald Trump greets El Paso Mayor Dee Margo (L), alongside US Senator Ted Cruz (C), Republican of Texas upon arrival at El Paso International Airport in El Paso, Texas, August 7, 2019 [SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images]

Secure border vs. Humanity

Sunday on ABC News’ “This Week,” Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas stated, “We have surged resources to meet a situation that is not specific to the southern border of the United States.”

” He pointed out that many migrants from Nicaragua and Venezuela had recently flooded into Colombia and Costa Rica, two nations for whom President Biden announced a special parole program last week. To quote Winston Churchill, “It has gripped the hemisphere, and a regional problem calls for a regional answer.”

To prepare for Biden’s border visit, politicians on both sides of the aisle sniped at each other over immigration policy. Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) remarked on “Fox News Sunday” that “there’s no doubt that there is a problem at the border” and that “President Biden acknowledges it, and it’s plain sense.” We need to keep the border safe but with compassion.

In response to Biden’s new policy, Khanna expressed optimism that “we could have some bipartisan consensus on this.” People coming here for economic motives must be distinguished from those who are genuinely escaping persecution.

While in power, the Democrats failed to address illegal immigration, according to Ohio Republican Representative Jim Jordan.

On Fox News Sunday, he claimed, “They just controlled all of the government only a couple of weeks ago.” For what reason didn’t they find a way to deal with immigration?

From here, Biden jetted to Mexico City late on Sunday for the long-awaited conference. On Monday, President Biden will meet with President of Mexico Andrés Manuel López Obrador.

North American Leaders’ Summit, often known as the Three Amigos Summit, is on the agenda for that evening, following his meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau the following day.

At a news briefing on Friday, White House national security spokesman John Kirby indicated that Biden would discuss three issues: climate change, migration, and narcotics (especially fentanyl).

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