Austin. On Thursday, President Joe Biden laid out a series of immigration reforms that he said would give immigrants more opportunities to enter the country legally, as well as tougher penalties for those who don’t.
The new enforcement measures will improve border security and reduce the number of people illegally crossing the border between ports of entry, White House officials said.
“We cannot prevent people from making the journey, but we can require that they arrive here in an orderly manner in accordance with US law,” Biden said.
The first measure imposes more serious consequences for those who enter the country illegally.
From now on, individuals who attempt to enter the US without permission, have no legal basis for stay, and cannot be removed under Section 42 will increasingly be subject to expedited removal to their country of origin and a five-year ban from the US. re-entry, officials said.
In addition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice announced new rules that they say “encourage people to seek orderly and legal migration routes.” This, they say, will in turn reduce overcrowding along the southwestern border and pressure on the immigration system.
Biden also said the federal government is taking steps to expand legal routes so that people no longer have to put themselves through costly, unsafe and laborious travel in hopes of reaching the US.
These efforts will allow U.S.-funded migrants from Nicaragua, Cuba and Haiti to legally enter the country under a program previously used by displaced Ukrainians and Venezuelans.
Up to 30,000 people per month from these countries can come to the US for up to two years and receive a work permit. These people will have a suitable sponsor and will go through screening and background checks, officials said.
To discourage illegal border crossings, those who do not regularly cross into Panama, Mexico or the United States after Thursday will not be eligible for the program and will be subject to deportation to Mexico. Mexico has agreed to accept the return of 30,000 people a month from those countries that do not use these new routes, Biden said.
“My message is this: if you are trying to leave Cuba, Nicaragua or Haiti and have agreed to start a journey to America, do not just show up at the border,” Biden said. “Stay where you are and apply legally from there. Starting today, unless you apply through the courts, you will not be eligible for this new parole program.”
Other new immigration measures include tripling the number of refugees admitted to the US from Latin America and the Caribbean to 20,000 in 2023 and 2024. The federal government is also working to launch an online booking portal to reduce overcrowding and waiting times at US ports of entry. .
The Biden administration will also provide nearly $23 million in additional humanitarian aid to Mexico and Central America.
“Recognizing that no country can meet these needs alone, this assistance will help support housing, healthcare, legal assistance, mental health, and psychosocial support,” White House officials said.
Biden added that while his administration will continue to do its best to ease the problems at the border, they are only temporary solutions. Congress should establish a more permanent solution, he said.
He said Congressional Republicans rejected his comprehensive border plan and his request for an additional $3.5 billion to secure the border and funds for 2,000 new asylum officers and personnel and 100 new immigration judges.
“The actions we are announcing today will improve the situation, but will not completely solve the border problem. More needs to be done,” Biden said. “Until Congress releases funds and a comprehensive immigration plan to completely fix the system, my administration will work to improve the situation at the border using the tools we have now.”
The remarks come days before Biden is due to make his first trip to the US-Mexico border since he was elected president.
On Sunday, he will travel to El Paso, where White House officials say he will meet with local authorities and address border issues.
U.S. Senator John Cornyn, R-Texas, said that while he is pleased to see Biden at the border, his visit “can’t be a flag photo op.”
“(Biden) should take the time to learn from some of the experts I rely on most, including local officials and law enforcement, landowners, non-profit organizations, US Customs and Border Protection employees and agents, and people who make their living from life in border communities. on the front lines of his crisis,” Kornin said in a statement. “If he wants to make this trip meaningful, to find tough solutions to the complete disaster that his policies have created, I would be happy to point him in the right direction.”
After Biden’s plan was unveiled, David Stout, chairman of the Texas Border Coalition and El Paso County Commissioner, said he believes Biden’s presence on the border can “help provide the momentum needed for real long-term solutions in and between dry ports” . input rather than a piecemeal approach.”
The Texas Border Coalition is made up of border mayors, district judges, and economic development commissions dealing with issues affecting 2.5 million people in the Texas-Mexico border region. He works with the state and federal governments to educate, advocate and fund transportation, immigration and border security, according to his website.
“For more than two decades, TBC has urged Congress to address our nation’s outdated and ineffective immigration laws,” Stout said. “We need federal action to provide the resources and processes to allow migrants to enter legally, and to effectively and orderly manage the border.”
Recently, the migration crisis has been under scrutiny.
In early December, thousands of migrants attempted to cross the U.S. border into El Paso, a city in west Texas, in a single weekend, prompting Republicans in states and national republics to condemn the end of Section 42, as sunset would be several days away. weeks.
Section 42 is a public health measure introduced by the Trump administration at the start of the coronavirus pandemic. This allows the federal government to push back migrants who enter the country illegally before they can seek asylum.
According to the latest figures from the US Border Patrol, 1.7 million people have been expelled under this rule. But the same person can be detained and expelled several times.
Section 42 was due to expire on December 21, but the U.S. Supreme Court intervened at the last minute and granted a temporary national injunction to strike down the rule. Judges are expected to hear oral arguments in the case in February.
“We can protect our border, make the immigration system orderly, fair, safe and humane. We can do all of this while continuing to light the torch of freedom that brought generations of immigrants to America,” Biden said. “We can do this if we remember who we are.”