The president will travel to the southern border for the first time since he took office on January 20, 2021. The three-hour tour was planned as part of the announcement of a new asylum immigration policy and will take place hours before his visit to Mexico to meet with his peer, Andrés Manuel López Obrador.

President Joe Biden will visit El Paso, Texas, this Sunday in his first trip to that area since he assumed control of the border on January 20, 2021.

The trip takes place two days after the announcement of a dramatic change in asylum policy that expands the use of Title 42 and limits the entry into the country of citizens originating from Cuba, Haiti and Nicaragua, who are added to the Venezuelans included. in the restrictions in October last year. It also occurs hours before Biden visits his Mexican counterpart, Andrés Manuel López Obrador.

“I myself will visit the border this Sunday, in El Paso, to evaluate border control operations,” the president said Friday during the announcement of the new program in the Roosevelt Room of the White House.

During his scheduled three-hour stay, Biden will meet with local officials, community leaders and representatives of the border community. “I will listen to what they need and find out what they don’t have” to control the crossing of immigrants, he said.

Title 42 was activated in March 2020 by the Donald Trump government as part of the measures to combat the coronavirus pandemic. The tool allows border agents to expeditiously expel foreigners, including those who come seeking asylum.

During fiscal year 2022, federal agents made 2,378,944 arrests (finds) at the border with Mexico compared to 1,734,686 arrests registered in fiscal year 2021, according to data from the Office of Customs and Border Control (CBP).

The number of detainees in 2022 is the highest number in almost a decade. Of that number, almost all foreigners were expelled: 2,208,604. Only 170,340 cases were referred to the Immigration Court (EOIR) to start a deportation trial before a judge where individuals have the opportunity to request asylum.

Biden’s reasons

One of the main reasons for Biden’s trip to El Paso is to demonstrate that his government continues to develop strategies to contain the crisis at the border, but that it needs the support of Congress to make the necessary transformations to repair an immigration system that has already been put into I squeeze the three previous governments, the Trump, Obama and Bush administrations.

The president explained this week that, in recent years, “thousands of people have been fleeing Central and South America and Caribbean countries ruled by oppressive dictators—including Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela—and escaping gang violence. , which has the same impact in Haiti.” “Currently, these four countries represent the majority of people who travel to Mexico to start a new life upon reaching the US border and trying to cross,” he said.

But he warned that the entry of these migrants is not taking place within “a safe and orderly process at the border” due to the fragmentation of a system that “simply does not work as it should,” he said. “We don’t have enough asylum officers or staff to determine if people qualify for asylum. There is a standard that you have to meet. We don’t have enough immigration judges to adjudicate immigrants’ claims,” he said in apparent justification.

Biden will also announce in El Paso the delivery of new funds to help communities deal with the effects of increased migration. “I know that migration is putting real pressure on the borders and border communities,” the president said. “Our border problems did not arise overnight and they will not be resolved overnight. It’s a tough problem,” he said.

immediate criticism

But the recent solution proposed by Biden and which in part motivated his trip to El Paso this Sunday, was immediately criticized, not only by organizations that defend the rights of immigrants, but also by senators from his own party.

“While we understand the challenges facing the nation at the border (…) we are deeply disappointed by the Biden Administration’s decision to expand the use of Title 42,” said legislators Bom Menéndez, from New Jersey, Alex Padilla, from California , and Cory Booker, from New Jersey). “Continuing to use this failed and inhumane Trump-era policy will do nothing to restore the rule of law at the border,” they said.

The senators added that the measure “will leave migrants fleeing persecution and torture stranded in countries without the ability to protect them” and urged Biden to focus “on addressing the causes” that generate migration and work with Congress. to approve a “more orderly and humane” asylum system.

The Hispanic Caucus (CHC) also reacted to the announcement of the new plan and Biden’s trip to the southern border. “As a nation of immigrants, we must have a humane, efficient and professional immigration system that reflects our American values,” said Nanette Barragán, president of the entity.

“The Congressional Hispanic Caucus welcomes the administration’s efforts to expand legal avenues for refugees and asylum seekers, but is disappointed with the expansion of the failed Trump-era Title 42 policy that has denied asylum seekers their due process rights for too long,” he said.

Barragán explained that after Biden’s announcement, the CHC had a conversation with the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas, “to discuss our agreements and disagreements on border policy and made it clear that the CHC must be consulted on all border and immigration related policies.

Summary of the new program

The new border immigration program announced by Biden is aimed at immigrants from Cuba, Haiti and Nicaragua, who are added to Venezuela and will only be able to enter the United States if they are previously requested or claimed by a family member who legally resides in the United States.

Those favored may only enter the country by air once the petition is approved and they receive a travel authorization. The permit lasts for two years and the holder can request an employment authorization (work permit) valid for the authorized stay time.

If at the end of those two years the holder of the program is not able to adjust his immigration status to permanent by any legal means available, he must leave the United States.

According to the announcement, as of January 5, 2023, immigrants from or originating in Cuba, Haiti, and Nicaragua (and as of October 12, 2022, from Venezuela) seeking asylum “can use an application on their cell phone or computer by going to the CBP One page. There they must schedule an appointment at a port of entry where they can present their asylum application.”

If the application is denied, the immigrant from any of the four designated countries will not be able to legally enter the United States. And if they try to cross illegally, “they will be returned to Mexico and will not be eligible for this program after that,” the White House warned.

“My message is this,” Biden said Thursday when he announced the plan. “If you are trying to leave Cuba, Nicaragua or Haiti (or Venezuela) and we have not agreed to authorize the trip, do not simply show up at the border. Stay where you are and legally apply from your country for admission to enter the United States.

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