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Immigration news today: President Joe Biden visits US-Mexico border for first time in office as Republicans mock security

Immigration news today: President Joe Biden visits US-Mexico border for first time in office as Republicans mock security

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EL PASO, Texas — President Joe Biden arrived in Texas on Sunday for his first trip to the US-Mexico border since taking office, stopping in El Paso after two years of being hounded by Republicans who labeled him as soft had hammered in terms of border security number of migrants crossing spirals.

Biden planned to spend a few hours in the city, which is currently the busiest corridor for illegal border crossings, mostly for Nicaraguans fleeing oppression, crime and poverty in their country. They are among migrants from four countries now subject to swift deportation under new rules enacted by the Biden administration last week, which have been heavily criticized by immigration advocates.

The President was due to meet with border officials to discuss migration and the growing trade in fentanyl and other synthetic opioids that are skyrocketing overdoses in the United States

WATCH: “Don’t just show up at the border,” says Biden

Biden was scheduled to visit the El Paso County Migrant Services Center and meet with nonprofit and religious groups that support migrants coming to the United States. It was not clear if Biden would speak to migrants.

“The President is very much looking forward to seeing firsthand the security situation at the border,” said John Kirby, White House national security spokesman.

But Gov. Greg Abbott, R-Texas scoffed at Biden’s reach.

Abbott was on hand when Biden left Air Force One and gave the president a letter outlining laws that the governor said, if enforced, would make a world of difference in fighting the “chaos.” would do at the border.

“This mess is a direct result of your failure to enforce the immigration laws enacted by Congress,” the letter said. “Their open borders policies have emboldened the cartels that get rich off the trade in deadly fentanyl and even humans. Texans pay a particularly high price for their failures, sometimes with their lives, as local leaders of your own party will tell you if I get the chance. On behalf of all Americans, I beg you: secure our border by enforcing congressional immigration laws.”

Read the Governor’s personally delivered letter to President Biden.

Biden’s border security announcement and visit to the border are designed in part to blunt political noise and soften the impact of upcoming immigration probes promised by House Republicans. But any lasting solution will require action from a sharply divided Congress, where several attempts at sweeping change have failed in recent years.

TIED TOGETHER: El Paso Mayor declares state of emergency in response to migrant influx

From El Paso, Biden was scheduled to travel further south to Mexico City, where he and leaders of Mexico and Canada will meet for a summit of North American leaders on Monday and Tuesday. Immigration is on the agenda. The challenge the US faces on its southern border requires cooperation from several countries, a sign that diplomacy will be just as important as internal US politics.

In El Paso, where migrants congregate at bus stops and in parks before continuing their journey, border patrol officials have stepped up security ahead of Biden’s visit.

“I think they’re trying to send a message that they’re going to be more rigorous in checking people’s documented status, and if you haven’t been processed, they’re going to pick you up,” said Ruben Garcia of the Proclamation House El Passo relief group.

Migrants and asylum-seekers fleeing violence and persecution are increasingly finding that protection in the United States is primarily available to those who have money or who are smart enough to find someone to vouch for them financially.

Jose Natera, a Venezuelan migrant in El Paso who hopes to apply for asylum in Canada, said he has no prospects of finding a US sponsor and he is now reluctant to apply for asylum in the US because he is afraid to be sent to Mexico.

Mexico “is a terrible country where there is crime, corruption, cartels and even police persecution,” he said. “They say that people who are thinking of entering illegally have no chance, but at the same time I have no sponsor. … I came to this country to work. I didn’t come here to play. “

The number of migrants crossing the US-Mexico border has increased dramatically in Biden’s first two years in office. In the year ended September 30, there were more than 2.38 million stops, the first time the number surpassed 2 million. The administration has struggled to crack down on transitions and is reluctant to adopt tough measures similar to those taken by the Trump administration.

The policy changes announced last week are Biden’s biggest move yet to curb illegal border crossings and will turn away tens of thousands of migrants arriving at the border. At the same time, every month 30,000 migrants from Cuba, Nicaragua, Haiti and Venezuela are given the chance to enter the US legally, as long as they travel by air, find a sponsor and pass background checks.

TIED TOGETHER: What is Title 42? How will it affect the Texas-Mexico border?

The US will also turn away migrants who do not first seek asylum in a country they passed through en route to the US. Migrants will be asked to fill out a form in a phone app so they can go to a port of entry ahead of the scheduled date and time.

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas told reporters aboard Air Force One that the government was trying to “incentivize a safe and orderly route and take out the smuggling organizations,” saying the policy was “not a ban at all,” but an attempt to Protecting migrants from the trauma that smuggling can cause.

The changes have been welcomed by some, particularly leaders in cities where migrants congregate. But Biden has been angered by immigrant advocacy groups who have accused him of taking measures modeled after those of the former president. Administration officials disputed this characterization.

For all of his international travels in his 50 years of public service, Biden hasn’t spent much time at the U.S.-Mexico border.

The only visit the White House could point to was Biden’s drive to the border while he was running for president in 2008. He sent Vice President Kamala Harris to El Paso in 2021, but she was criticized for largely bypassing the action because El Paso wasn’t the center of intersections it is now.

TIED TOGETHER: Houston is participating in the decompression of the El Paso migrant push ahead of the Title 42 end date

President Barack Obama made a trip to El Paso in 2011 to tour border operations and the Paso Del Norte International Bridge, but he was later criticized for not returning when tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors entered the United States from Mexico.

Trump, who has made hardening immigration his trademark, has traveled to the border several times. On one visit, he huddled into a small border post to inspect cash and drugs seized by agents. During a trip to McAllen, Texas, then the center of a growing crisis, he made one of his most repeated claims that Mexico would pay for a border wall to be built.

In the end, American taxpayers footed the bill after Mexican leaders flatly rejected the idea.


ABC News and Associated Press writers Morgan Lee in Santa Fe, New Mexico and Josh Boak in Washington contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2023 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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