EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — President Joe Biden is making his first trip to El Paso and the border since taking office — amid an evolving and challenging immigration situation.
The president is expected to land at 12:45 pm on Sunday and stay here for about three hours.
The trip will take place when the President travels to Mexico to meet with the leaders of Mexico and Canada.
According to Richard Pineda, director of the Sam Donaldson Center for Communication Studies at UTEP, one of the main topics of conversation during a visit to Mexico City will be immigration.
“It’s significant that he’s using El Paso as the starting point, both literally and figuratively, for this conversation in Mexico,” Pineda told KTSM.
Biden’s visit also came after Mayor Oscar Lizer released a disaster statement on Dec. 17 as the border faced uncertainty about Section 42 and its future. The Supreme Court has since ruled to keep the pandemic-era health order in place, possibly until June, when it can examine the matter more thoroughly.
Section 42 has been used for over two years to quickly turn down migrants, including those seeking asylum.
Biden will visit a slightly less chaotic border since Lieser declared a state of emergency last month.
As of Thursday, border guards were reporting 800 daily detentions of migrants, compared with 2,400 daily encounters in mid-December.
Lizer, in issuing his declaration, estimated that up to 6,000 migrants could cross the border area daily if Section 42 was repealed.
“The second and most striking (impact) on the people of the Borderland is the situation that has unfolded over the past few weeks in the race to the end, and now the delay of Title 42,” Pineda told KTSM. “It reinforced efforts to minimize undocumented immigration to the United States.
“It also brought attention to section 42 and how it affected asylum seekers,” Pineda continued.
Last week, the president introduced a new online process for migrants to apply for asylum.
Migrant advocates criticized the new procedure and urged the president to meet with the migrants themselves during his visit.
On Saturday, the Border Network for Human Rights held a rally and march ahead of the president’s visit, calling for more humane treatment of migrants.
Republicans and other critics of the administration say the trip is nothing more than a photo opportunity.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott told Fox News: “All he’s going to do is rearrange chairs on the deck of the Titanic. He is not going to push for any solution that will make the border safer, more secure or stop illegal immigration.”
Irene Armendaris-Jackson, a Republican who ran against incumbent US Rep. Veronica Escobar, a Democrat from El Paso and lost the last two election cycles, is protesting the president’s visit.