President Joe Biden walked a muddy stretch of the U.S.-Mexico border and inspected a busy port of entry Sunday on his first journey to the area after two years in workplace, a go to shadowed by the fraught politics of immigration as Republicans blame him for report numbers of migrants crossing into the nation.
At his first cease, the president noticed as border officers in El Paso demonstrated how they search autos for medicine, cash and different contraband. Subsequent, he traveled to a dusty avenue with deserted buildings and walked alongside a steel border fence that separated the U.S. metropolis from Ciudad Juarez.
His final cease was the El Paso County Migrant Companies Heart — however there have been no migrants in sight. As he realized concerning the companies supplied there, he requested an help employee, “If I may wave the wand, what ought to I do?” The reply was not audible.
Biden’s almost four-hour go to to El Paso was extremely managed. He encountered no migrants besides when his motorcade drove alongside the border and a few dozen had been seen on the Ciudad Juárez aspect. His go to didn’t embody time at a Border Patrol station, the place migrants who cross illegally are arrested and held earlier than their launch. He delivered no public remarks.
The go to appeared designed to showcase a clean operation to course of authorized migrants, weed out smuggled contraband and humanely deal with those that have entered illegally, making a counter-narrative to Republicans’ claims of a disaster scenario equal to an open border.
However his go to was seemingly do little to quell critics from either side, including immigrant advocates who accuse him of creating merciless insurance policies not not like these of his hard-line predecessor, Donald Trump.
In an indication of the deep tensions over immigration, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, handed Biden a letter as quickly as he touched down within the state that mentioned the “chaos” on the border was a “direct end result” of the president’s failure to implement federal legal guidelines. Biden later took the letter out of his jacket pocket throughout his tour, telling reporters, “I haven’t learn it but.”
Home Speaker Kevin McCarthy dismissed Biden’s go to as a “picture op,” saying on Twitter that the Republican majority would maintain the administration “accountable for creating probably the most harmful border disaster in American historical past.”
El Paso County Decide Ricardo Samaniego welcomed Biden’s go to, however mentioned a present lull in arrivals prevented the president from seeing how giant the group of newcomers has been.
“He didn’t get to see the actual difficulties,” mentioned Samaniego, who was within the native delegation that greeted Biden. “It was good that he was right here. It’s a primary step. However we nonetheless must do extra and have extra time with him.”
Elsewhere in El Paso the place Biden didn’t go to, a whole bunch of migrants had been gathered Sunday outdoors the Sacred Coronary heart Catholic Church, the place they’ve been sleeping open air and receiving three meals a day from religion teams and different humanitarian organizations.
The migrants included a number of pregnant girls, together with Karla Sainz, 26, eight months alongside. She was touring in a small group that included her 2-year-old son, Joshua. Sainz left her three different kids again residence in Venezuela together with her mom.
“I might ask President Biden to assist me with a permission or something so we will work and proceed,” she mentioned.
Juan Tovar, 32, one in every of a number of folks in her group, recommended he additionally had political causes for leaving his residence nation.
“Socialism is the worst,” he mentioned. “In Venezuela, they kill us, they torture us, we will’t discuss unhealthy concerning the authorities. We’re worse off than in Cuba.”
Noengris Garcia, additionally eight months pregnant, was touring together with her husband, teen son and the small household canine from the tiny state of Portuguesa, Venezuela, the place she operated a meals stall.
“We don’t wish to be given cash or a home,” mentioned Garcia, 39. “We simply wish to work.”
Requested what he’s realized by seeing the border firsthand and talking with the officers who work alongside it, Biden mentioned: “They want loads of sources. We’re going to get it for them.”
El Paso is presently the most important hall for unlawful crossings, largely as a result of Nicaraguans fleeing repression, crime and poverty of their nation. They’re amongst migrants from 4 international locations who are actually topic to fast expulsion below new guidelines enacted by the Biden administration previously week that drew robust criticism from immigration advocates.
Biden’s current coverage bulletins on border safety and his go to to the border had been aimed partly at blunting the influence of upcoming investigations into immigration promised by Home Republicans. However any enduring resolution would require motion by the sharply divided Congress, the place a number of efforts to enact sweeping adjustments have failed lately.
From Texas, Biden traveled 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. Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador met Biden on the airport Sunday night time and joined him within the presidential limousine for the journey to Biden’s resort.
The numbers of migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border has risen dramatically throughout 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 measures that might resemble these of Trump’s administration.
The coverage adjustments introduced this previous week are Biden’s greatest transfer but to include unlawful border crossings and can flip away tens of 1000’s of migrants arriving on the border. On the similar time, 30,000 migrants per thirty days from Cuba, Nicaragua, Haiti and Venezuela will get the prospect to return to the U.S. legally so long as they journey by aircraft, get a sponsor and go background checks.
The U.S. will even flip away migrants who don’t search asylum first in a rustic they traveled by en path to the U.S. Migrants are being requested to finish a type on a cellphone app in order that they they’ll go to a port of entry at a pre-scheduled date and time.
Homeland Safety Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas instructed reporters aboard Air Drive One which the administration is making an attempt to “incentivize a secure and orderly approach and minimize out the smuggling organizations,” saying the insurance policies are “not a ban in any respect” however an try to guard migrants from the trauma that smuggling can create.
The adjustments had been welcomed by some, significantly leaders in cities the place migrants have been massing. However Biden was excoriated by immigrant advocate teams, which accused him of taking measures modeled after these of the previous president. Administration officers disputed that characterization.
For all of his worldwide journey over his 50 years in public service, 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 Biden’s 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.
Trump, who made hardening immigration a signature concern, traveled to the border a number of occasions.