Biden walks alongside U.S.-Mexico border in journey to Texas

Washington — President Biden visited U.S.-Mexico border on Sunday, his first journey there as president after two years of hounding by Republicans who’ve hammered him as tender on border safety whereas the number of migrants crossing spirals.

In El Paso, Texas, Mr. Biden visited a migrant heart and walked alongside a stretch of the border wall. He was accompanied by Homeland Safety Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, a number of Democratic members of Congress from the world, the mayor of El Paso and several other native heads of charitable organizations.

Mr. Biden was greeted upon touchdown by Texas’ Republican governor, Greg Abbott, who handed a letter to Mr. Biden that Abbott stated outlined 5 methods he can tackle the border disaster. Abbott, who has referred to as for Mr. Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris to go to the border, advised reporters that he thought it was “this being the president’s first go to to the border, after being in workplace for 2 years, is that it’s gorgeous and astonishing, and outrageous.”

El Paso, situated within the southwestern fringe of Texas, is presently the largest hall for unlawful crossings, due largely to Nicaraguans fleeing repression, crime and poverty of their nation. They’re amongst migrants from 4 international locations who at the moment are topic to fast expulsion underneath new guidelines enacted by the Biden administration up to now week.

The president was anticipated to fulfill with border officers to debate migration in addition to the elevated trafficking of fentanyl and different artificial opioids, that are driving skyrocketing numbers of overdoses within the U.S.

Biden Border
President Joe Biden talks with Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, second from left, as they stroll alongside a stretch of the U.S.-Mexico border in El Paso Texas, Sunday, Jan. 8, 2023. Homeland Safety Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas is at proper. Andrew Harnik / AP

“The president’s very a lot trying ahead to seeing for himself firsthand what the border safety state of affairs appears like,” stated John Kirby, White Home nationwide safety spokesman, previous to Mr. Biden’s arrival. “That is one thing that he needed to see for himself.”

Mr. Biden’s announcement on border safety and his go to to the border are aimed partially at quelling the political noise and blunting the influence of upcoming investigations into immigration promised by Home Republicans. However any enduring answer would require motion by the sharply divided Congress, the place a number of efforts to enact sweeping adjustments have failed in recent times.

“All of those govt department efforts actually are simply short-term band-aids, whether or not it is Title 8, whether or not it is Title 42, if we have to make it possible for Congress acts,” Rep. Veronica Escobar, a Democrat from Texas who’s becoming a member of Mr. Biden in El Paso, told “Face the Nation.”

Escobar stated she has “hit a brick wall” from Republicans and Democrats when attempting to implement legislative adjustments to handle border points.

“The manager department just isn’t the one department of presidency that should do its job,” she stated.

Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and John Cornyn of Texas supplied faint reward for Mr. Biden’s determination to go to the border, and even that was notable within the present political local weather.

“He should take the time to study from a few of the consultants I depend on probably the most, together with native officers and regulation enforcement, landowners, nonprofits, U.S. Customs and Border Safety’s officers and brokers, and people who make their livelihoods in border communities on the entrance strains of his disaster,” Cornyn stated.

Texas National Guard soldiers stand guard at the U.S.-Mexico border on Jan. 7, 2023, as viewed from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.
Texas Nationwide Guard troopers stand guard on the U.S.-Mexico border on Jan. 7, 2023, as considered from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. John Moore/Getty Pictures

From El Paso, Mr. Biden will proceed south to Mexico Metropolis, the place he and the leaders of Mexico and Canada will collect on Monday and Tuesday for a North American leaders summit. Immigration is among the many objects on the agenda.

In El Paso, the place migrants congregate at bus stops and in parks earlier than touring on, border patrol brokers have stepped up safety earlier than the president’s go to.

“I feel they’re attempting to ship a message that they’ll extra persistently examine individuals’s documented standing, and when you have not been processed they will decide you up,” stated Ruben Garcia of the Annunciation Home support group in El Paso.

Migrants and asylum-seekers fleeing violence and persecution have more and more discovered that protections in the USA can be found primarily to these with cash or the savvy to search out somebody to vouch for them financially.

Jose Natera, a Venezuelan migrant in El Paso who hopes to hunt asylum in Canada, stated he has no prospects for locating a U.S. sponsor and that he is now reluctant to hunt asylum within the U.S. as a result of he is afraid of being despatched to Mexico.

Mexico “is a horrible nation the place there may be crime, corruption, cartels and even the police persecute you,” he stated. “They are saying that individuals who take into consideration coming into illegally will not have an opportunity, however on the identical time I haven’t got a sponsor. … I got here to this nation to work. I did not come right here to play.”

The numbers of migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border has risen dramatically throughout Mr. Biden’s first two years in workplace. There have been greater than 2.38 million stops throughout the 12 months that ended Sept. 30, the primary time the quantity topped 2 million. The administration has struggled to clamp down on crossings, reluctant to take hard-line measures that may resemble these of the Trump administration.

The coverage adjustments announced this past week are Mr. Biden’s greatest transfer but to include unlawful border crossings and can flip away tens of hundreds of migrants arriving on the border. On the identical time, 30,000 migrants monthly from Cuba, Nicaragua, Haiti and Venezuela will get the possibility to come back to the U.S. legally so long as they journey by aircraft, get a sponsor and cross background checks.

The U.S. may even flip away migrants who don’t search asylum first in a rustic they traveled by en path to the U.S.

The Biden administration will enable migrants in central and northern Mexico to schedule appointments to hunt asylum at a U.S. port of entry by a mobile phone app, CBP One.

Escobar, the Texas congresswoman, stated a lot of the migrants fleeing their dwelling international locations have cellphones, as it’s how they impart with one another and household at dwelling, however she referred to as on different elements of the U.S. authorities to take extra motion.

“We do want much more sturdy State Division involvement, particularly for many who do not need entry to that form of know-how. We want far higher schooling,” she stated. “Most of the refugees that I’ve spoken to, particularly over the past couple of weeks, don’t have any idea of what the asylum course of is. Their concept is I’ll go to the border, I’ll get a job. And I’ll assist my household, one thing all of us would do, after all. So there’s lots of work that must be accomplished.”

The adjustments introduced by the president had been welcomed by some, notably leaders in cities the place migrants have been massing. However Mr. Biden was excoriated by immigrant advocate teams, which accused him of taking measures modeled after these of the previous president.

“I do take problem with evaluating us to Donald Trump,” stated White Home press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, pointing to a few of his most maligned insurance policies, together with the separation of migrant youngsters from their mother and father.

“This isn’t that president,” she stated.

For all of his worldwide journey over his 50 years in public service, Mr. Biden has not spent a lot time on the U.S.-Mexico border.

The one go to that the White Home may level to was his drive by the border whereas he was campaigning for president in 2008. He despatched Vice President Kamala Harris to El Paso in 2021, however she was criticized for largely bypassing the motion, as a result of El Paso wasn’t the middle of crossings that it’s now.

President Barack Obama made a 2011 trip to El Paso, the place he toured border operations and the Paso Del Norte worldwide bridge, however he was later criticized for not going again as tens of hundreds of unaccompanied minors crossed into the U.S. from Mexico.

Trump, who made hardening immigration a signature problem, traveled to the border a number of occasions. Throughout one go to, he crammed right into a small border station to examine money and medicines confiscated by brokers. Throughout a visit to McAllen, Texas, then the middle of a rising disaster, he made certainly one of his most-often repeated claims, that Mexico would pay to construct a border wall.

American taxpayers ended up footing the invoice after Mexican leaders flatly rejected the thought.

“NO,” Enrique Peña Nieto, then Mexico’s president, tweeted in Could 2018. “Mexico will NEVER pay for a wall. Not now, not ever. Sincerely, Mexico (all of us).”

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