Texas

Biden heads to the US-Mexico border to face a crisis he says is not easy to fix

President Joe Biden met at the airport in El Paso on Sunday with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who in a personal letter demanded that Biden take immediate action to stop illegal immigration, including by building additional border walls.

Abbott told reporters that in his letter to Biden, he described “the chaos his refusal to abide by border laws has caused in Texas” and suggested five possible solutions, including more deportations and building new walls.

“He needs to step up and take quick action,” the governor said. The President, he said, replied that he “wants to work with us on this.”

Reporters who traveled with Biden and spoke to Abbott after the two men met could not hear anything they said to each other as the president stepped off Air Force One. Biden did not speak to the press before leaving the airport.

Abbott, a Republican, has become one of the Democratic president’s fiercest critics on immigration issues as border crossings have increased. Over the past year, he has repeatedly taken migrants from Texas to Democratic-run cities to protest what he calls federal inaction on border security. The White House has criticized the move as a stunt that exploits vulnerable people.

Over the course of several hours on Sunday in El Paso, Biden plans to see firsthand the conditions at the port of entry and migrant accommodation facility that US authorities are facing. The president is facing calls from both Democrats and Republicans to expedite cases, relocate legitimate applicants, and deport people found ineligible.

Since Biden entered the White House, the US has seen a significant increase in migration from Latin America. The president attributes this surge to a number of factors, including the flight of people from dictatorial and socialist regimes in search of a better life in the United States. But his critics say the crisis is being fueled by Biden’s rejection of tough measures to stop crossovers.

Congress has abandoned immigration reform or major new funding, leaving Biden with few options. The US continues to use pandemic-era border controls, known as Section 42, to expel migrants quickly. On Thursday, the president acknowledged that there is no easy solution, announcing new measures to resolve the situation at the border.

“Our problems at the border did not arise overnight and will not be resolved overnight. It’s a difficult problem,” Biden said. But he also lashed out at Republicans for what he called “inflammatory” migration talk and urged them to work across the aisle to pass immigration legislation and additional border security funds.

“Before, immigration reform was a bipartisan issue. We can do it again. This is not only correct, but also reasonable from an economic point of view, ”Biden said. “It’s so easy to demagogue this issue.”

Congress is preparing to investigate the situation on the border after the election of Republican Kevin McCarthy as Speaker of the House of Representatives early Saturday. Some Republicans have threatened to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Majorcas for what they call a lack of border controls.

Majorcas dismissed the threat of impeachment in a speech to reporters aboard Air Force One on Sunday, saying his department had “a job we need to get done.”

Many Republicans have accused Biden of ignoring the crisis, especially those representing the border states.

“In all this time, Joe Biden didn’t call me — neither he nor his staff called and informed us of his visit, or of inviting us, until last night,” Abbott said earlier on Sunday on the Fox News program. Morning Futures. “We received a random email from one of my employees asking if I would be there to meet him on the runway.”

A White House spokesman confirmed that Abbott was invited to meet with Biden on Saturday.

Biden is visiting the city of Texas and its border facilities on his way to Mexico City, where he will meet Canadian and Mexican leaders Monday and Tuesday for the North American Leaders’ Summit.

Biden kicked off the summit by announcing Thursday an agreement with Mexico that would see the US expand its humanitarian program to take in up to 30,000 additional migrants each month from Cuba, Nicaragua, Haiti and Venezuela.

The changes extend to an October initiative that allowed eligible Venezuelans to enter the U.S. by air if they applied from abroad, could designate someone in the U.S. to provide financial support, and passed national security, public safety, and health screening.

But as part of the deal, the administration will stop offering asylum to migrants from the four countries who try to cross the US border without permission. In an agreement with the Mexican government to accompany a new parole program, more migrants from four countries will be denied entry and returned to Mexico.

The American Civil Liberties Union said Biden’s statement “further ties his administration to the venomous anti-immigrant policies of the Trump era instead of restoring fair access to asylum protection.”

Majorcas said it was unfair to compare the policy to the Trump administration’s approach and that there was no limit on the number of asylum applications.

“This is not a ban at all, and it is markedly different from what the Trump administration has proposed,” Mallorcas told reporters aboard Air Force One on Sunday. “What we’re trying to do is get people involved in a safe and orderly way, which isn’t there right now.”

He added: “I have seen first hand the trauma that is inflicted on migrants who actually use the services of smuggling organizations – trauma or tragedy.”

Biden and former President Donald Trump have used Section 42 restrictions to remove migrants more than 2 million times since the start of 2020.

Biden has struggled to decide how to deal with the border throughout his administration, including trying to quell the unrest that fuels migration. In 2021, he appointed Vice President Kamala Harris as the person in charge to address the economic and social conditions causing migration from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador.

Yet Congress withdrew any meaningful new funding or reform, leaving Biden, who sent the proposed immigration bill to Congress on the day he was sworn in, with meager opportunities to overhaul an already overburdened system except through executive assistance. measures.

“This is a difficult question. I don’t want to pretend it’s not easy,” Biden said on Thursday.

– Assisted by Jenny Leonard and Akayla Gardner.

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