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Sunday menu and presidential cortege: what El Paso residents said ahead of Biden’s visit

From the Texas Newsroom:

As Texas Republicans and immigration activists criticized President Biden a lot in the lead-up to his first visit to the border, El Pasoan Patty Apodaka was more focused on what was right in front of her: a full parking lot at one of the city’s famous menu restaurants. .

Finally finding a seat at the Good Luck Café on Sunday morning, Apodaka shrugged and said she wasn’t very impressed with Biden’s visit, which comes just weeks after El Paso saw tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants cross into the border city. , which strained local and federal authorities. Resources.

“I think all presidents are the same and they do things just for themselves,” she said in Spanish. – That’s what I think.

After the cameras were gone and the streets were clear of the congestion caused by the president’s motorcade, Apodaca said El Paso would continue as usual. Migrants will keep coming, but this is nothing new for Sun City.

“[Biden] I didn’t have to promise so much – that’s why this is the situation, ”she said. “But then everything will remain the same.”

Several presidents have stopped in El Paso for campaign speeches or to defend their allies, including Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. But Biden’s visit marks the second time in a row that the president has been in El Paso amid criticism and controversy. Former President Trump visited El Paso in August 2019 after a gunman opened fire on a Walmart in a racially motivated attack.

But El Pasoan Mario Soto said Biden’s visit should not politicize El Paso.

“I don’t understand why this would make us look bad. We are in an immigration center and that’s the way it is,” he said while shopping at an East Side mall on Sunday. “I feel like it’s the president’s responsibility whenever there’s a big problem. It’s not something heroic. I think it’s just what they should do. You are the president – you should go where the big things happen.”

Others see the visit in a more positive light. Gayle Rollins, who moved to El Paso when her husband Greg was in the US Army, said she thought Biden’s visit was in line with what she called a president doing business.

“I am very glad that he is coming. I think he’s doing a great job and I’m no longer scared by what’s going on in the world. He has everything under control,” she said, adding that she believes the country has become more divided under Trump.

But she said Biden should have paid the visit earlier.

“I think he should have been here before because I don’t think people should be sleeping on the street,” she said, referring to the hundreds of migrants who have been forced to sleep on sidewalks in recent weeks after shelters and federal centers detention. were above capacity.

Like Soto, Greg Rollins said immigration will always be a problem in El Paso, and Biden’s visit was a by-product of that. But he did not criticize the timing of the visit.

“I think he’s just doing his job and I don’t think he would have come if it wasn’t for the crisis. But I think it’s good that he’s coming, just to draw more attention to what’s going on,” he said. “I don’t think it would really matter or change anything if he was here four weeks ago instead of Sunday.”

Biden will be in El Paso around three o’clock Sunday. His visit will include a visit to the Bridge of the Americas, the port that links the city to Ciudad Juarez and is the main artery of the region’s commercial network. He will also visit the directors of the shelters and will be joined by US representatives Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, Veronica Escobar, D-El Paso and Vicente Gonzalez, D-McAllen.

Human rights activists call for change

While some El Paso residents see Biden’s visit as a routine presidential affair, immigrant rights advocates hope the visit will lead to a change in current policy. On Saturday, several groups held a march and protest in support of migrants who they say are only looking for a better life in the United States.

“If I had the opportunity to meet with the president, we would tell him that he needs to open up a place for these families, immigrants and refugees who are in limbo,” said Fernando Garcia, the organization’s executive director in El Paso. Border Network for Human Rights, KTEP reported. “It seems that the only option they were offered was expulsion and deportation.”

Some hopes that Biden would take a more humane approach to immigration were dashed last week when the White House announced a new immigration policy.
As part of the tiered plan, the Secretary of Homeland Security will allow 30,000 people from Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela and Haiti to be released on parole in the country under current immigration laws as they seek help in the United States.

But the administration will retain a controversial Section 42 rule that allows for the immediate expulsion of migrants without the ability to apply for asylum. The US will also continue to deport migrants under a separate rule called Section 8, which deports immigrants who have not been paroled or otherwise barred from entering the country. This includes migrants who avoid detection and cross the border between official ports of entry.

On Sunday, the League of United Latin American Citizens, or LULAC, said the only solution to the immigration crisis is a comprehensive plan.
“When the conditions they live in become so dangerous and uncertain and can no longer be sustained, will they do what we do? Leave for asylum,” LULAC National MP Ray Manser said in a statement. “Isn’t that what the United States has historically advocated for? No, we can’t have open borders, so a comprehensive immigration solution is needed.”

At approximately 12:30 p.m. local time, Biden landed in El Paso, accompanied by Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mallorcas, according to White House pool reports.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott greeted the president at the airport when television cameras filmed Abbot delivering correspondence to Biden. In the letter, Abbott ordered the president to take additional measures at the border and chastised Biden for not visiting the area for so long.

“Your visit to our southern border with Mexico today is $20 billion too short and two years too late,” Abbott said, referring to public money that was spent on Abbott’s controversial Operation Lone Star.

“What’s more, you’re avoiding places where there’s massive illegal immigration and bypassing the thousands of angry Texas property owners whose lives have been ruined by your border policies.”

Abbott then listed several steps he believes Biden should take, including resuming construction of the border wall, designating the migrant smuggling cartels as terrorist organizations, and resuming the immediate expulsion of all unauthorized border crossings.

“On behalf of all Americans, I implore you to secure our border by abiding by Congressional immigration laws,” Abbott wrote.

Angela Kocherga from KTEP contributed to this story.

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