U.S. WEEKLY offers an in-depth analysis of various geopolitical processes that have direct effect on US’ domestic and foreign policies. This particular analytical column is possible thanks to the cooperation with polish media abroad: Dziennik Związkowy – Polish Daily News, Polishexpress of United Kingdom and WIrlandii.pl of Ireland
Date: 23 January 2023
U.S. Migrant Crisis
In early January 2023, U.S. President Joe Biden visited the border town of El Paso in southern Texas, one of the most vivid symbols of the decades-long breakdown in America’s immigration system.
Upon Biden’s arrival in El Paso for his first trip to the border since taking office, Governor Greg Abbott (R) hand-delivered a scathing letter to the president, criticizing his border policies. The president’s visit to El Paso was in a way a breakthrough as the border crisis has long mounted in the southern state. In early October 2022, New York Mayor Eric Adams declared a state of emergency to help respond to the crisis that could ultimately cost a billion dollars by the end of the fiscal year. The mayor also warned that the shelter system is currently full and nearly out of money, staff, and space. In the last four months of 2022 five or six buses full of migrants from the Texas border rolled into New York City each day. A vivid symbol of the influx was when about 130 migrants were dropped off in front of Vice President Kamala Harris’ residence on Christmas Eve. High winds and heavy snow and ice prevented them all from arriving in New York City.
Thousands of migrants have been arriving on buses sent by the governors of Texas and Arizona to Democat-led cities of Washington, New York City, Philadelphia, and Chicago. The measures came in response to the government’s poor commitment to tackling the migration crisis. Gov. Greg Abbot has in the past taken action to protect his state, notably by launching Operation Lone State to ramp up security in the state by reinforcing border controls, adding more troops and police officers to the state border to fight human and drug trafficking, and increasing the state’s spending on border security. Abbott also made an effort to finish construction on Trump’s border wall.
By busing migrants from the Texas-Mexico border to Democrat-led cities across the country, Abbott sought to draw attention to the border crisis along the southern border and the end of pandemic border restrictions known as Title 42. The Trump-era policy gave the government the power to automatically expel undocumented migrants seeking entry, which the Biden administration sought to repeal, yet in vain.
Shortly after taking office, Biden made the immigration reform bill the centerpiece of his efforts to suggest new legislation, blocked by the Republican Party. Further efforts to reverse Title 42 have only added fuel to the fire.
Quite vocal about bypassing the federal government and state law enforcement, through his action, Abbott made it happen as the government became increasingly aware of a simmering migrant crisis along the southern border. President Biden announced new immigration restrictions on January 5, 2023, including the expansion of programs to remove people quickly without letting them seek asylum. The legislation provides for rapid expulsions and harsh fines for migrants who are not authorized to be granted asylum in the United States. Migrants accepted through the parole program will be authorized to live and work in the United States for a two-year period. The expansion allows those nationals from Cuba, Haiti, and Nicaragua––in addition to those from Venezuela, already accepted under the program. The United States plans to welcome up to 30,000 migrants per month from these countries. Nationals from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Venezuela are fleeing their countries, leading among the number of refugees and asylum seekers in the United States. This is in line with Biden’s policy to promote democracy and fight oppression.
Biden is in a tough situation as Republicans have criticized him for a late response while Democrats consider his reforms inhumane that somewhat resemble Trump-era migrant policy. Many claim that Biden overlooks domestic affairs while remaining too focused on foreign policy. Mexican officials also say Biden’s proposals might burden Mexico’s already overwhelmed system.
Biden met with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during the North American Leaders’ Summit, or the Three Amigos Summit, on January 9–10. It is the trilateral summit between the prime minister of Canada (Justin Trudeau), the president of Mexico (Andrés Manuel López Obrador), and the president of the United States. The most recent North American Leaders’ Summit took place in Mexico that a U.S. president visited for the first time in nine years. Despite uneasy ties between the U.S. and Mexico, many tout Biden for his willingness to collaborate while constructing no walls between the two states.
The three North American leaders affirmed their joint commitment to safe, orderly, and humane migration throughout the region. Under Biden’s plan to curb illegal border crossing and back legal migration, a new online website will be created to help people seek asylum. These efforts should disrupt criminal actors and associated crimes. A new host center will be opened to help migrants in southern Mexico. The three leaders also pledged to forge closer security cooperation.
Whether these actions will bear any fruit is not known, but they come as a major turning point in Biden’s migration policy. The liberal U.S. president has taken radical action to end the crisis many had neglected before. Meanwhile, cities along the U.S.-Mexico border are bracing for another record-breaking surge of migrants.
Jakub Łyjak graduated from law at the University of Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań and economics at the Poznań University of Economics. He also studied Business Administration (Betriebswirtschaftslehre) at the Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität in Münster. He gained professional experience in the field of law and non-governmental organizations, including Polish Entrepreneurship and Leadership Association and Center for American Studies.
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