US President Joe Biden made his first visit to the US-Mexico border since taking office in January 2022.
The political issue has dogged the Democratic president since taking office, with Republican critics accusing the administration of being too lenient, and human rights groups accusing the newly announced measures. would put the lives of asylum seekers in jeopardy.
The stop in El Paso, Texas, comes as Biden travels to Mexico, where he is scheduled to meet President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Monday before attending a trilateral summit with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on next day in Mexico City.
“They need a lot of resources. We’ll get it for them,” Biden told reporters in Texas, where he met border agents at the Bridge of the Americas, which connects El Paso to the Mexican city of Ciudad Juarez and is one of the ports of entry. most crowded between the two countries.
During the visit, Biden watched border guards in El Paso demonstrate how they search vehicles for drugs, money and other contraband. He then inspected part of the tall fence along the border between El Paso and Ciudad Juarez.
Meanwhile, in a sign of deepening political tension over immigration, Republican Governor Greg Abbott handed Biden a letter when he arrived saying the supposed “chaos” in the country. border is a “direct consequence” of the president’s failure to enforce federal law.
Controversial asylum policy
Last week, the Biden administration announced new immigration rules that it predicted would “dramatically reduce” the number of people seeking to cross the southern border, Biden told reporters at the time.
The rules create a new program that allows a legal pathway for about 30,000 Cuban, Haitian, Nicaraguan and Venezuelan citizens to enter the US a month and receive a two-year work permit, as long as they have a sponsor in the US and pass a background check.
In turn, the policy allows U.S. authorities to deport residents of four countries irregularly across the border to Mexico and bar them from accessing the program. Mexico has agreed to take in 30,000 deported residents of four countries for a month, according to the administration.
Human rights groups say that harmful policy for individuals who have no choice but to illegally cross the border to seek asylum. They allege the new policy is an extension of former President Donald Trump’s Title 42, which allows the administration to rapidly deport adults seeking asylum across the border, citing COVID-19 health concerns- 19.
After a lengthy court battle, a US federal judge in november order Title 42 was lifted, but the US Supreme Court late last month agreed to consider whether Republican-led states could object to the policy’s termination, leave it in place in this time.
Following last week’s announcement, Heidi Altman, policy director at the National Center for Immigration Justice, accused the Biden administration of “publicly rejecting” the US law, which “clearly stipulates that It’s legal to go to the border and ask for asylum.”
Aboard Air Force One on Sunday, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas told reporters that authorities were trying to “safely and orderly encourage and eliminate smuggling organisations”.
The policy is “not a ban at all,” he said, but that efforts to protect migrants and refugees from smuggling can create trauma.
Drugs, top economy visit Mexico
After the border visit, Biden planned to continue on to Mexico, where an increase in border crossings, as well as efforts to combat trafficking in fentanyl and other drugs has fueled deadly addiction crisis in the United States, was at the top of the agenda of the bilateral meeting with President Lopez Obrador.
On Saturday, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said Washington was “making strides” with its partners to seize illegal drugs and other drugs, calling it’s an “ongoing effort”.
Mexico has long been plagued by gang-related bloodshed with more than 340,000 people killed since the government’s military deployment in the 2006 war on drugs. During the campaign, Mr. Lopez Obrador promised to abandon the militarized approach, but critics criticized it. says he’s only made superficial changes. However, he did say that Mexico City is seeking investment in regional economic development from Washington.
Days before Biden’s visit, Mexican security forces arrested the son of notorious drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, who is serving a life sentence in the US.
On Tuesday, efforts to strengthen economic ties will be the main theme of a tripartite summit of the leaders of the United States, Mexico and Canada.
The meeting took place in the context Mexican energy dispute is ongoing with the US and Canada, with Washington and Ottawa arguing that Lopez Obrador’s efforts to give market control to his cash-strapped state energy companies violate the US trade agreement- Mexico-Canada (USMCA).
The United States and Canada have launched dispute settlement proceedings against Mexico, denying hope of supporting cooperation on jobs and investment.