WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden plans to travel to El Paso, Texas on Sunday as the White House pushes new steps aimed at stemming historic migration amid criticism that his administration has not done enough.

Biden will address border enforcement operations during his trip – his first visit to the border as president – ​​and meet with local officials, according to senior administration officials who discussed the plans ahead of the president’s remarks Thursday.

Biden will also call on Congress to fully fund his border security budget request and pass legislation overhauling the immigration system.

The trip, which will come before he visits Mexico next week, coincides with new policy initiatives Biden will lay out in a speech Thursday that the White House characterized as unprecedented moves to strengthen border control while expanding legal pathways to the US

What Biden is announcing

  • The US will send back to Mexico migrants from Venezuela, Nicaragua, Haiti and Cuba in exchange for admitting up to 30,000 people each month from those countries who have a sponsor and pass background checks. This is an expansion of a similar policy just for Venezuela that began in October and has led to a decline in the number of Venezuelans attempting to enter the US illegally, according to the administration.

  • The US will let in 20,000 refugees from Latin American and Caribbean countries during the next two years, which the administration says will more than triple refugee admissions from the Western Hemisphere.

  • Migrants who attempt to enter the US without permission and cannot be expelled under the Title 42 pandemic policy will increasingly be subject to “expedited removal” and a five-year ban on re-entry.

President Joe Biden on the South Lawn of the White House on Jan.  4, 2023.

President Joe Biden on the South Lawn of the White House on Jan. 4, 2023.

Why it matters

Biden is under pressure to detail his plans for dealing with a surge of migrants at the US-Mexico border. Border security is a top priority for Republicans, who took control of the House in the November midterm elections and have criticized Biden for not visiting the border. Republicans have also vowed to investigate the administration’s handling of the issue.

Migrants cross and line up on the north bank of the Rio Grande on Dec.  19, 2022 to turn themselves into Border Patrol agents for processing and a chance to remain in the US to seek asylum.

Migrants cross and line up on the north bank of the Rio Grande on Dec. 19, 2022 to turn themselves into Border Patrol agents for processing and a chance to remain in the US to seek asylum.

The background

  • Mexico trip: Biden is traveling to Mexico Jan. 9-10 to meet with to meet with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador. Migration will be “right at the top of the issues they will discuss,” White House spokesman John Kirby said Wednesday. Other priorities are climate change and drug trafficking, including the flow of fentanyl across the border.

  • State of emergency: El Paso Mayor Oscar Lesser declared a state of emergency last month after Border Patrol released more than 10,000 asylum seekers and other migrants in a single week. Hundreds have been sleeping on city streets.

  • Title 42: Texas Gov. Greg Abbott warned last month there will be “total chaos” at the border if a pandemic policy that allows the federal government to rapidly expel migrants is allowed to end. The Supreme Court has said that policy, Title 42, must continue while courts assess a lawsuit filed by Republican officials in 19 states who want to keep Title 42 in place.

  • Vice President Harris: Vice President Kamala Harris, who was tasked at the start of the administration with addressing the root causes of migration, attended his speech.

Migrants crossed the Rio Grande and approached the Texas National Guard to inquire when they will be allowed to be processed by Customs and Border Protection to seek asylum in El Paso, Texas on Dec.  20, 2022.

Migrants crossed the Rio Grande and approached the Texas National Guard to inquire when they will be allowed to be processed by Customs and Border Protection to seek asylum in El Paso, Texas on Dec. 20, 2022.

The bigger picture

While taking new administrative actions, Biden continues to argue that there are underlying problems with the immigration system that can be addressed only through legislative action. But there are no indications a divided Congress will be able to reach a bipartisan agreement on such a politically charged issue.

Want to know more? Here’s what you missed

Border visit: Biden plans to visit the US-Mexico border for the first time in his presidency

5 Things podcast: Border cities prepare for Title 42 battle, how to deal with grief

“Total chaos”: Texas governor warns of ‘total chaos’ on the border when Title 42 ends this week

More: El Paso council members call for Biden to visit border as humanitarian crisis continues

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Biden to visit El Paso in first trip to southern border as president

By admin

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.