_
_
_
_
_

Biden and López Obrador agree to take measures to tackle migration on US-Mexico border

The two leaders held a telephone conversation in which it was decided to ‘implement concrete measures to significantly reduce irregular crossings’

APEC: Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and Joe Biden
Joe Biden and Andrés Manuel López Obrador at the White House in July 2022.Sipa USA (Bloomberg)

Irregular immigration has become one of the main headaches for U.S. President Joe Biden as he seeks re-election in the November presidential election. Due to pressure from his Republican rival, Donald Trump, Biden has not been able to push through a law to strengthen the border with Mexico. Aware that the mass crossing of immigrants could punish him at the polls, the U.S. president is looking for alternative ways to stem the flow. Biden spoke Sunday with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and agreed to take steps to curb irregular crossings, the White House said in a statement Monday.

The two leaders “discussed how to effectively manage hemispheric migration, strengthen operational efficiency on our shared border, and thereby improve the security and prosperity of citizens of both countries,” according to the joint statement released by the White House.

“In the short term, the two leaders ordered their national security teams to work together to immediately implement concrete measures to significantly reduce irregular border crossings while protecting human rights,” adds the communique, which does not detail what types of measures are being discussed.

Aside from those short-term measures, Biden and López Obrador also pledged to advance initiatives to address the root causes of migration, noting that “increasing shared prosperity and security will be of critical importance in effectively addressing the migration challenge over the longer term.”

For his part, López Obrador said in his morning press conference that the White House had “requested the communication.” The leaders agreed to “keep the border open so that those who carry out their legal procedures can reach the United States,” the Mexican president told reporters at the National Palace, adding that there will be “no, let’s say, irregular, migration.” “Migration was basically the topic… very good relationship with President Biden,” he added.

The bill negotiated by Republicans and Democrats and subsequently torpedoed by Trump would have allocated more than $20 billion to staff and equip immigration and border services. The bill included funding for border patrols, asylum officers, immigration judges, and reception services. It also included a legal amendment that would have allowed Biden to allow “hot returns” — direct deportations at the border without individual examination — by suspending asylum rules when certain thresholds in inflows are exceeded.

The legislation allows immigrants to apply for asylum regardless of how they enter, and they are arriving in such numbers as to overwhelm the capacity of an underfunded immigration system. This effectively allows immigrants to settle while their cases are delayed for years. The law would have triggered immediate repatriation of migrants upon exceeding 5,000 illegal crossings per day on average over a five-day period.

Biden has been analyzing the possibility of passing a decree including measures to make it more difficult for migrants to cross, or to facilitate their expulsion. Among the moves under consideration is invoking powers under Section 212(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, which gives the president broad leeway to block the entry of certain immigrants if it is deemed “detrimental” to the national interest.

Trump repeatedly resorted to that clause during his tenure, including in his controversial ban on the entry of travelers from Muslim-majority countries, which Biden repealed after taking office. The Biden administration has discussed whether that provision could be enforced upon exceeding a certain number of illegal crossings, in line with the provision that was included in the proposed law, but without a legal amendment any decree against border crossings will likely be challenged in court.

López Obrador recalled that the U.S. Supreme Court declared the Texas state government’s placement of barbed wire and buoys on the border unconstitutional. In addition, he stated that of the 12,000 migrants that had been arriving at the border daily on average, now half that number are doing so. The Mexican president attributed this drop to the aid programs that Mexico is financing in countries such as Venezuela.

Sign up for our weekly newsletter to get more English-language news coverage from EL PAÍS USA Edition

More information

Archived In

Recomendaciones EL PAÍS
Recomendaciones EL PAÍS
_
_