The US administration of Joe Biden is facing a problematic situation on the southern border with Mexico, where the unusual influx of immigrants that began at the end of last year has put the system of welcoming people and handling requests in crisis.
The wave of immigration put the administration’s plans in dire straits, which promised more human and respectful rights than Donald Trump’s immigration policy. The Biden government is currently under intense pressure from both the Republican Party, which claims the government has lost control of its borders, and the left wing of the Democratic Party, which condemns the fact that tens of thousands of people, including very many children, parents, remain in reception centers. In the case of de facto detention.
Immigration flows are cyclical, but this year the arrival of immigrants at the southern border of the United States could be very large. In January 2021, 78,442 people crossed the border, and in February there were 100,441 people: almost three times as much compared to the same period in 2020. Los Angeles TimesIf the flow of migrants continues at this pace, it could become 2021 The year that saw the largest number of arrivals during the past two decades.
There are many reasons for this massive influx. First of all, during 2020, the Trump administration has drastically reduced immigrant arrivals by taking advantage of the pandemic and using Address 42, an order issued by the then Secretary of Homeland Security that bans all “non-essential” travel to reduce the risk of an infectious disease. Thanks to Title 42, the Border Police had the legal cover to carry out summary expulsions of hundreds of thousands of people.
Therefore, it was to some extent expected that with the end of the Trump administration, immigration would revert to the increase, also because one of Biden’s election promises was to put an end to the “moral and patriotic disgrace of the previous administration,” which with summary repatriations and above all with the disputed decision. For him to separate parents and children, she was accused of practicing cruel and inhuman policies.
Also read: Biden’s Strategy in Asia
In January, Biden ordered a moratorium on deporting immigrants already on US soil for a period of 100 days, scrapping a policy the Trump administration wanted and implemented in agreement with the Mexican government under which tens of thousands of immigrants were. They were forced to wait for the United States government to process their asylum claims south of the border, in Mexican camps where conditions were often critical.
However, due to the pandemic, the President has decided to keep Trump’s 42 address in effect, but with exemptions for minors who cross the border unaccompanied. Since January, border authorities have had to welcome them and assess their asylum application.
This measure had unexpected effects, as it caused a sharp increase in the number of unaccompanied minors attempting to cross the border: families decided to send them on the front because they hoped for a later reunion in the United States. Last weekend, management He knew 14,000 immigrant minors were detained at the border.
This continuous and sudden influx of immigrants, also driven by the consequences of two hurricanes that struck Honduras and Nicaragua and the crisis caused by the pandemic, has destroyed all intentions of the Biden administration, which was planning to completely change policies. Boundaries, to build more appropriate structures and establish new practices.
The situation on the border with Mexico became unsustainable before these projects were implemented. Reception facilities have been rapidly put into crisis in recent months, also due to the poor policies of previous years: The Trump administration has neglected reception facilities, and in the final months of its term, it has even ordered that some of these be dismantled. Moreover, the epidemic prevention measures have made it mandatory to undertake a sharp reduction in the capacity of the existing structures, which are often crowded in spite of everything.
Under these circumstances, the administration has had to turn at least in part to the old and critical regulations Trump used: It has reopened some of the buildings that were initially closed, where immigrants are in fact in custody. The living conditions in the buildings are somewhat harsh and uncomfortable, due to overcrowding as well. Many children are kept in custody for more than the 72 hours required by law, after which they must be sent to foster families or to more suitable facilities.
To try to at least partially resolve this situation, he started hosting migrants a few days ago In hotels and other accommodation facilities Usually reserved for tourists.
The government has also expelled thousands of families using Address 42, forcing dozens of people to camp in the southern portion of the border in Mexico in precarious conditions while awaiting another chance to enter – just like the Trump era.
The Biden administration refuses to define the situation on the border as a “crisis,” but that is the case in one way or another. The political consequences are very dangerous, as the president finds himself caught between two poles. On the other hand, the Republican Party, which is accusing the administration of losing control over the borders and allowing a large number of immigrants to enter, is at a particularly critical moment due to the pandemic. On the other hand, the left wing of the Democratic Party, which accuses Biden of not abolishing Title 42 completely and of maintaining many of Trump’s inhuman practices.
For now, the administration appears to be mainly interested in criticism from the conservative side. In an interview with ABC, Alejandro Mayuras, Minister of National Security. He saidAddressed to immigrants: “The message is clear, don’t come.” After that, he addresses the American public: “The borders are closed. Borders are safe. We are expelling families. “We are expelling adults alone … Thanks to Title 42 of the United States Code, because we are in the midst of a pandemic and this is the priority.”
The border crisis threatens to jeopardize Biden’s other legislative initiatives related to immigration, such as plans to restore and expand several programs to regularize and grant citizenship to illegal immigrants and foreigners residing on US soil.