Biden shifts blame for immigration crisis ahead of first border visit
President Joe Biden attempted to shift blame for the immigration crisis that has increased under his administration days before he's set to make his first visit to a border community as states grapple with hundreds of thousands of illegal border crossings each month.
Biden gave a speech on immigration at the White House Thursday as he faces growing pressure to visit the U.S.-Mexico border amid a surge in illegal immigration. In the first two months of fiscal year 2023, which began in October, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol reported 465,034 encounters between migrants and border officials at the Southwest border. During the first part of fiscal year 2022, there were 339,682 such encounters.
With 233,740 encounters between migrants and law enforcement officials, November 2022 marked the fourth consecutive month of increases in border crossings, which reached a high of 241,136 in May 2022. The overwhelming of border cities, accompanied by the astronomical number of border crossings, prompted the Democratic Mayor of El Paso, Texas, to declare a state of emergency.
During his speech Thursday, Biden told reporters that he would be traveling to Mexico to meet with President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador next week, where securing the border between the two countries is on the agenda. “I will visit the border myself this Sunday in El Paso, Texas, to assess border enforcement operations, meet with the local officials and community leaders and the folks at the border,” he said.
The president added that he was looking forward to learning what border officials “need that they don’t have.”
The press conference comes as the Biden administration is seeking to end Title 42, which enabled border officials to quickly turn away migrants seeking entry into the U.S. due to public health concerns arising from the coronavirus pandemic. The U.S. Supreme Court has ordered Title 42 to remain in place as the justices are set to hear a case seeking the reversal of a lower court order vacating the policy.
Biden’s impending trip to the border marks his first visit there since taking office nearly two years ago. Throughout each full month of his administration, border crossings have remained above 100,000.
Critics point to the abolishing of the Trump-era Migrant Protection Protocols, which required those seeking asylum in the U.S. to stay in Mexico while their cases were adjudicated, as well as the weakening of Title 42 as the sources of the surge. With those policies in place, Southwest border crossings never crossed 100,000 in any one month.
After his speech concluded, a reporter asked the president why he thought right now constituted the “right time to visit the southern border,” recalling how “Republicans have been begging you to do this since the beginning.” Biden responded by insisting that Republicans “haven’t been serious about this at all,” adding, “I wanted to make sure that I knew what the outcome … was on Title 42 before I went down.”
He expressed his disapproval of Title 42, citing the fact that the court is not expected to issue a final ruling on the policy for a considerable period of time as the reason why he is going now. Additionally, Biden used the press conference to announce actions his administration was going to take to reduce the flow of illegal immigrants through the Southwest border and outlined new paths for those seeking to come into the U.S. to do so legally.
The president also touted an app called CBP ONE, which he explained enables migrants “to schedule an appointment at a port of entry and make their asylum claim there without crossing the border unlawfully.” The White House has also expanded a parole program enabling Venezuelan migrants with sponsors in the U.S. who pass background checks to come to the country and receive work authorization for two years to Cubans, Haitians and Nicaraguans.
Those whose parole applications are denied or who illegally enter the U.S. during the process will not be eligible for the program. Biden contended that the parole program for Venezuelans has resulted in a reduction of the surge at the border.
“Since we created the program, the number of Venezuelans trying to enter America without going through a legal process has dropped dramatically from about 1,100 per day to less than 250 per day on average,” he declared. He predicted that the expansion of the parole program to the three additional countries will “substantially reduce the number of people attempting to cross our southwest border without going through the legal process.”
Noting that most of the people seeking entry into the U.S. come from Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela and Haiti, the president said that “Mexico has agreed to allow the return of up to 30,000 persons per month who try and get caught and get sent back from those four countries who are apprehended while attempting to unlawfully cross the ... southwest border.”
Biden directed a message to those seeking to come to the U.S. from those countries: “Do not just show up at the border. Stay where you are and apply legally from there.”
Ahead of his remarks, the White House released a fact sheet outlining new actions the administration was taking to address the surge in illegal immigration. “Effective immediately, individuals who attempt to enter the United States without permission, do not have a legal basis to remain, and cannot be expelled pursuant to Title 42 will be increasingly subject to expedited removal from their country of origin and subject to a five-year ban on reentry,” the fact sheet states.
Additionally, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice announced their intent to “propose a new regulation that would encourage individuals to seek orderly and lawful pathways to migration and reduce overcrowding on the southwest border and the strain on the immigration system.”
Ahead of the anticipated surge in migrants seeking asylum that will accompany the lifting of Title 42, the Biden administration indicated that “DHS and DOJ are surging asylum officers and immigration judges to review asylum cases at the border more quickly – with the aim of reducing initial processing times from months to days.” DHS will also hire “additional agents and officers to join the over 23,000 already working to secure the border.”
To address concerns about the strain on border cities, the administration vows to send more financial resources to such jurisdictions in addition to mobilizing “faith-based and nonprofit organizations supporting migrants, including those providing temporary shelter, food, and humanitarian assistance.”
Throughout both the press conference and the fact sheet, the administration contended that the actions unveiled Thursday would not wholly solve the problem of illegal immigration and pointed to congressional Republicans as the reason behind the failure to achieve that goal. According to the fact sheet, “While these steps will help address some of the most acute challenges at the Southwest border, they will not solve all of the problems in an immigration system that has been broken for far too long.”
“That can only happen if Republicans in Congress who have spent the past two years talking about border security quit blocking the comprehensive immigration reform and border security measures President Biden proposed on his first day in office, and opposing the billions of dollars in additional funds the President has requested for border security and management.”
Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at: email@example.com