WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden heads to the U.S.-Mexico border on Sunday, his first trip there as president after two years of harassment from Republicans who have been soft on border security as the number of migrants crossing the border rises.
Biden is scheduled to spend several hours in El Paso, Texas, currently the largest corridor for illegal crossings, thanks in large part to Nicaraguans fleeing repression, crime and poverty in their country. They are among migrants from four countries now subject to expedited deportation under new rules passed by the Biden administration last week that have drawn strong criticism from immigration advocates.
The president is expected to meet with border officials to discuss immigration and the growing trade in fentanyl and other synthetic opioids, which are causing a spike in overdoses in the U.S.
Biden will visit the El Paso County Migrant Service Center and meet with nonprofits and faith-based groups that support migrants arriving in the United States. It is not known whether Biden will talk to the migrants.
“The president is very much looking forward to seeing first-hand what the security situation looks like at the border,” said John Kirby, White House press secretary for national security. – This is what he wanted to see with his own eyes.
Biden’s announcement on border security and his visit to the border are aimed in part at quelling political noise and blunting the implications of future immigration investigations promised by House Republicans. But any lasting solution will require action from a sharply divided Congress, where repeated efforts to enact sweeping changes in recent years have failed.
Republican senators Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and John Cornyn of Texas offered weak praise for Biden’s decision to visit the border, and even that was notable in the current political climate.
“He should take the time to learn from some of the experts I rely on the most, including local officials and law enforcement, landowners, nonprofits, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers and agents, and self-employed individuals. for life in border communities on the front lines of its crisis,” Cornyn said.
From El Paso, Biden will continue south to Mexico City, where he and the leaders of Mexico and Canada will gather on Monday and Tuesday for the North American Leaders Summit. Among the items on the agenda is the issue of immigration.
The problem the US faces on its southern border “is not unique to the United States. Captivating half the world. And a regional challenge requires a regional solution,” Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said on ABC’s “This Week” before joining Biden on the trip.
In El Paso, where migrants gather at bus stops and parks before the trip, the Border Patrol has stepped up security ahead of Biden’s visit.
“I think they’re trying to make it clear that they’re going to be more consistent in checking people’s documented status, and if they don’t process you, they’re going to take you away,” said Ruben Garcia of the Annunciation House aid group in El Paso.
Migrants and asylum seekers fleeing violence and persecution are increasingly finding that protection in the United States is available primarily to those with the money or the savvy to find someone to sponsor them financially.
Jose Natero, a Venezuelan migrant in El Paso who hopes to seek asylum in Canada, said he has no prospects of finding a sponsor in the U.S. and that he does not want to seek asylum in the U.S. now because he fears being sent to Mexico.
Mexico is “a horrible country where there is crime, corruption, cartels and even the police will come after you,” he said. “They say that those who think about illegal entry will not stand a chance, but at the same time, I don’t have a sponsor. …I came to this country to work. I didn’t come here to play.”
The number of migrants crossing the US-Mexico border has skyrocketed during Biden’s first two years in office. More than 2.38 million stops were made in the year ended Sept. 30, the first time the number topped 2 million. The administration has been struggling to limit the transitions, reluctant to adopt draconian measures similar to those of the Trump administration.
The policy changes announced last week are Biden’s biggest move yet to curb illegal border crossings and turn away tens of thousands of migrants arriving at the border. At the same time, 30,000 migrants a month from Cuba, Nicaragua, Haiti and Venezuela will be able to legally come to the United States, provided they travel by plane, get a sponsor and pass a background check.
The U.S. will also refuse migrants who don’t first seek asylum in the country they passed through on their way to the U.S.
The changes were welcomed by some, especially leaders in cities where migrants are congregating. But Biden has been vilified by immigrant advocacy groups, who have accused him of adopting measures modeled after past presidents.
“I’m not going to compare us to Donald Trump,” said White House press secretary Karin Jean-Pierre, pointing to some of his most maligned policies, including the separation of migrant children from their parents.
“This is not the right president,” she said.
For all his international travel during 50 years of public service, Biden hasn’t spent much time at the US-Mexico border.
The only visit the White House could point to was Biden’s drive to the border during his campaign for president in 2008. He sent Vice President Kamala Harris to El Paso in 2021, but she was criticized for largely bypassed the action, as El Paso was not the transit hub it is now.
In 2011, President Barack Obama made a trip to El Paso to inspect border operations and the Paso del Norte International Bridge, but was later criticized for not turning back when tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors entered the US from Mexico .
Trump, who has made tougher immigration a signature issue, has made several trips to the border. On one visit, he squeezed into a small border crossing to inspect cash and drugs seized by agents. During a trip to McAllen, Texas, then the center of the escalating crisis, he made one of his most oft-repeated claims that Mexico would pay for the border wall.
American taxpayers ended up footing the bill after Mexican leaders flatly rejected the idea.
“NO,” tweeted Enrique Peña Nieto, then president of Mexico, in May 2018. “Mexico will NEVER pay for the wall. Not now, not ever. Sincerely, Mexico (all of us).”
Associated Press writer Morgan Lee in Santa Fe, New Mexico contributed to this report.
Biden to get a first-hand look at the situation on the US-Mexico border
Source link Biden to get a first-hand look at the situation on the US-Mexico border