During a press conference on Monday, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador told reporters he places some of the blame for the surge at the border on the Biden administration for its “too-soft messaging” on immigration policy.
Speaking to the press earlier this week, President Obrador expressed his concern over the public messaging coming out of the Biden administration, saying Biden’s promises to reverse Trump-era immigration policy had led to confusion among migrants in Mexico and Central America, who have taken the messaging to mean they will be able to enter the United States now that Trump is out of office. Obrador told reporters, “Expectations were created that with the Government of President Biden there would be a better treatment of migrants. And this has caused Central American migrants, and also from our country, wanting to cross the border thinking that it is easier to do so.”
The Biden administration has repeatedly put out public statements urging migrants not to travel to the border now, due to the Title 42 border closure ordered by former Vice President Pence, which gives border officials the authority to severely limit the amount of people allowed over the border during the COVID-19 pandemic. In spite of the warnings not to come to the border, there has been an influx of migrants trying to cross into the United States in recent weeks. While most of them have been turned away due to the pandemic restrictions, unaccompanied minors and some families with small children have been allowed in and housed in temporary facilities to await processing.
Due to the gutting of immigration-centric agencies like the US Refugee Admissions Program under Trump, processing is taking longer than usual and more minors – mostly males between 15 and 17 years old – are arriving every day. As hundreds of migrants per day arrive at the US-Mexico border seeking asylum from Mexico and Central America, officials from the US and Mexico alike have expressed concern over the conditions of the sheltering facilities available to the migrants due to the sheer number of people who need to be detained to await processing.
Republican lawmakers have been quick to blame Biden directly for the increasingly urgent situation at the southern border, blaming his refusal to reinstate the Trumpian policy of expelling unaccompanied minors. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) tweeting on Sunday, “The crisis is the direct result of Biden’s policies…Biden: -Brought back catch & release -Halted construction of the wall -Ended the Remain in Mexico policy.” When the new administration took office in January, immigration policy took top priority with President Biden signing an executive order ending only a handful of the Trump-era changes to the immigration system, including ending the Remain in Mexico policy, which Republicans have often hailed as an effective solution to border surges. In fact, the policy only resulted in 70,000 entering the program and “a fraction” of them eventually being granted asylum, according to an MSNBC interview with American Immigration Council’s Aaron Reichlin-Melnick.
The recent surge, as experts have pointed out, is also not out of the ordinary. Migrant caravans are seasonal, and the southern border saw a larger surge in 2019 under President Trump and before the COVID-19 pandemic. President Obrador’s proposed solutions to the migrant surge seem to somewhat parallel President Biden’s. Obrador expressed his desire for Biden to invest in Northern Triangle countries (Guatemala, Honduras and el Salvador) and Mexico in order to begin correcting some of the conditions that lead to migrants fleeing in the first place. On the campaign trail President Biden proposed a “comprehensive four-year, $4 billion regional strategy to address factors driving migration from Central America.” Obrador and Biden also agree with halting construction of Trump’s border wall, publicly hailing the decision as a positive move. The Mexican president also thanked Biden this week for sending 2.7 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to his country.
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ARTICLE: LAURA SPIVAK
POLITICS EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: GODANRIVER.COM