President Joe Biden’s administration has taken steps to address the ongoing issue of record migrant crossings from Mexico by adding sections to the existing border wall. This move, aimed at curbing unlawful immigration, represents a continuation of the policies implemented by former President Donald Trump.
When President Biden assumed office, he issued a proclamation outlining his stance on the border wall construction, emphasizing that no further taxpayer funds would be directed towards it. Nevertheless, given that the allocated funds from the previous administration were required to be spent promptly, this recent action aligns with the president’s earlier commitment.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas clarified that this decision does not signify a new administration policy concerning border walls. Since the beginning of President Biden’s term, it has been abundantly clear that a border wall is not the ultimate solution to addressing immigration challenges.
The construction project was initiated during the prior administration, and the law compels the use of the allocated funds, as mandated by a previous announcement. While the Mexican President, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, considers this move a step backward, it demonstrates the administration’s accountability towards fulfilling legal obligations.
With the impending U.S. presidential race, immigration is likely to remain a central theme, particularly as a majority – 54% – of Americans believe that immigration is placing additional burdens on native-born citizens.
Notably, this sentiment is shared by a significant percentage of Republicans, with 73% in agreement, as well as 37% of Democrats, according to recent surveys.
Consequently, President Biden’s decision to proceed with the border barriers will undoubtedly expose him to scrutiny from his left-leaning base, including immigration advocates and environmentalists who object to further construction.
In order to construct barriers in Starr County, Texas, President Biden’s Department of Homeland Security acknowledged the necessity to waive a number of laws, regulations, and legal requirements.
This announcement came as Border Patrol agents in the Rio Grande Valley Sector reported encountering over 245,000 individuals entering the United States this fiscal year. While some environmentalists expressed disappointment, highlighting the significance of Starr County’s habitat, the administration maintains a different approach to address the immigration system’s flaws.
The White House emphasizes that it has adopted a distinct strategy to rectify the ‘broken immigration system’ inherited by President Biden. Among the measures taken are the expansion of legal pathways for migrants and investments in border security technology. However, operationally and politically, the administration has faced challenges due to the record-breaking number of migrant crossings during President Biden’s tenure, with September witnessing unprecedented highs.
While President Biden initially pledged to reverse many of the immigration policies implemented by his predecessor, he maintained the COVID-era public health order known as Title 42, which allowed the expulsion of migrants to Mexico without providing them an opportunity to seek asylum. When Title 42 expired on May 11 of this year, the Biden administration introduced a strict new rule that requires migrants to schedule an appointment using a government-run smartphone app before approaching a legal port of entry. Those who cross the border illegally face a tougher asylum process.
Following the announcement of this new rule, there was a temporary decline in the number of migrants. However, recent weeks have seen another rise in migrant numbers, partly driven by thousands of individuals fleeing Venezuela.
To address the situation, the Biden administration unveiled another significant enforcement action: the resumption of deportation flights to Venezuela, a policy that was previously halted due to strained relations between the two countries.
The surge in migrant arrivals has put considerable strain on U.S. cities near the border and even on those farther north. Asylum seekers, who can be released into the country to await their immigration court hearings, contribute to the more than 2 million pending immigration cases, which can often take years to resolve, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
Republican governors in border states, dissatisfied with President Biden’s approach to tackling illegal border crossings, have transported arriving migrants to cities controlled by Democratic leaders, such as New York City and Chicago, a move that has garnered criticism from Democrats as well.
New York City Mayor Eric Adams embarked on a trip to Mexico, Colombia, and Ecuador to convey a firm message to potential migrants: his city cannot accommodate them given the overwhelming strain on the local shelter systems.
The issue of immigration is highly complex, and it is estimated that approximately 11 million immigrants reside in the U.S. without legal documentation, many having lived and worked in the country for several years or even decades.
At the outset of his tenure, President Biden made efforts to secure congressional passage of a comprehensive immigration reform bill, but encountered staunch opposition from Republicans.
Despite these hurdles, the administration has remained committed to addressing the multifaceted challenges of immigration with a pragmatic and practical approach, keeping in mind the best interests of the American people.