WASHINGTON, Jan 8 (Reuters) – President Joe Biden will visit the U.S.-Mexico border on Sunday for the first time since taking office two years ago, tackling one of the country’s most politically charged issues as he gears up for re-election. .
Biden on Thursday announced new plans to block Cuban, Haitian and Nicaraguan migrants at the US-Mexico border, expand the nationalities of migrants who can be deported back to Mexico, and was not expected to make a visit to El Paso, Texas. New policy developments.
Instead, it’s to demonstrate that the US president is taking the issue seriously, stop nagging questions about when he plans to visit, improve relations with the Border Patrol and give him another chance to push Congress to pass a new law. A broken system.
However, Republicans’ newly-taken control of the House of Representatives essentially blocks any chance of legislative reform, leaving Biden with few good options.
“This trip is a recognition that this is a serious issue, one with real difficulties, but one that can only be resolved with the help of Republicans,” said Karen Finney, a Democratic consultant.
Republicans have continued to use the border issue as a stick against Biden, blaming him for failing to strike harder. With a thin Republican majority in the House, giving party hardliners more leverage, there is little hope for compromise.
Biden – along with Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorgas – is expected to meet with congressional lawmakers, local officials and community leaders at the border.
The White House said the president would evaluate border enforcement operations in El Paso, where the Democratic mayor declared a state of emergency last month, citing hundreds of migrants sleeping on the streets in frigid temperatures and thousands being arrested each day.
U.S. border officials apprehended 2.2 million migrants at the Mexico border in fiscal year 2022, which ended in September, although that number includes people who tried to cross multiple times.
Biden’s efforts to stem the tide of immigration have drawn criticism from all sides. Human rights activists and some Democrats say the new restrictions are a step back from Biden’s 2020 campaign promise to restore historic rights to asylum seekers.
And while drawing praise from some U.S. industry groups eager to address pressing labor shortages, the policy could spark legal challenges from both those who support immigration controls and advocates for asylum seekers.
Biden on Thursday opened legal, limited routes into the country for Cubans, Nicaraguans and Haitians, while calling on Congress to enact comprehensive reform, something the US lawmaking body has failed to do for decades.
After the El Paso visit, Biden will travel to Mexico to meet with Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Republicans have seized on record crossings, migrant deaths and reports of fentanyl spills at the border, calling for the ousting of Biden’s Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas as Biden reverses some of former President Donald Trump’s closest border policies.
Some pro-Trump Republican hardliners who helped elect Kevin McCarthy as Speaker on Saturday have sparked zero cooperation with Democrats.
“It’s a problem that won’t go away and he has to mitigate it or take it off the table in the upcoming election,” a senior Democrat told Reuters. “Biden needs to solve the problem without letting his opponents dominate the story.”
Biden sent an immigration reform plan to Congress on his first day in office, but it faltered amid opposition from congressional Republicans, who blocked a request for $3.5 billion to boost border enforcement.
Americans give Biden failing marks on immigration policy, polls show
In a poll collected by RealClearPolitics, 37% disapprove of Biden’s handling of immigration, lower than his overall approval rating.
The issue has frustrated leaders of both parties, Democrats note.
“It’s not something that came out in the last couple of years. It’s been 30 years in the making, the product of a mess of Democratic and Republican policies,” said Jennifer Holdsworth, a Democratic strategist.
“Voters are tired of hysteria and talking points. They want radical solutions.”
Jared Renshaw and Andrea Shalal report; Editing by Heather Timmons and Leslie Adler
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