President Joe Biden criticized Republicans’ handling of the southern border as he announced plans Thursday to visit the border and address illegal immigration.
“It’s clear that immigration is a political issue and extreme Republicans are always going to run on it,” Biden said Thursday. “But now they have a choice, they can keep using immigration to try to score political points or they can help solve the problem.”
Speaking from the White House, Biden outlined a plan to limit the number of illegal migrants crossing into America, while lamenting that as “the most extreme Republicans continue to demagogue this issue and reject solutions, I’m left with only one choice, to act on my own, do as much as I can on my own to try to change that atmosphere.”
The plan aims to limit the number of migrants entering America illegally from Cuba, Nicaragua, Haiti, and Venezuela to 30,000 per month. The plan expands a Department of Homeland Security program implemented in October limiting the number of Venezuelans entering America illegally amid a surge of individuals fleeing Venezuela.
Like the Venezuela program, the new plan will allow migrants from Cuba, Nicaragua, and Haiti to apply from abroad for entry into America and will require that migrants “must have a lawful sponsor here in the United States who agrees to sponsor you to get here,” Biden said.
If a migrant’s application is approved, he or she will be permitted to work in America for two years, Biden said, adding that if a migrant’s “application is denied, or they attempt to cross into the United States unlawfully, they’ll be returned back to Mexico and will not be eligible for this program after that.”
Mexico has agreed to accept up to 30,000 illegal migrants from Venezuela, Nicaragua, Cuba, and Haiti who failed to use the new legal program to enter America.
“This new process is orderly, it’s safe, and it’s humane, and it works,” Biden said.
Biden’s expansion of the program relies on the continued existence of Title 42, a public health measure that allows Border Patrol to prevent migrants from entering the country. Under Title 42, migrants from Venezuela, and now Cuba, Nicaragua, and Haiti, who did not apply or pass through the application process will be denied entry into America.
In December, the Supreme Court temporarily blocked the Biden administration from ending Title 42, but Biden says his administration will continue the measure.
Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, has said that Title 42 is “the last line of defense to combat rampant illegal immigration.”
Numbers from Customs and Border Protection reveal a drop in the number of Venezuelan illegal aliens seeking to cross the border since October when DHS announced the new Venezuela-specific program.
“The Venezuelan Migration Enforcement Process is working,” Customs and Border Protection wrote in a November press release.
In September, CBP encountered 33,804 Venezuelan illegal migrants at the southern border. In October, that number declined to 22,045 encounters, and numbers fell to 7,931 in November.
“Venezuelans have dropped from roughly 1,100 a day the week before that process was announced, to roughly 100 a day consistently throughout November,” CBP reports.
In November, the “number of unique individuals encountered,” people not encountered in the previous 12 months, on the southern border was 204,155. Among the migrants encountered in November, 68,044, or about 35%, were from Nicaragua or Cuba, according to CBP.
During his speech, Biden confirmed that he plans to visit the southern border in El Paso, Texas, next week ahead of his trip to Mexico City to meet with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador. This will mark the first time Biden has visited the border since taking office as president.
“Republicans haven’t been serious about this at all,” Biden told press when asked why he waited until now to travel to the southern border.
Biden added that he wanted to wait until he knew what “the outcome, or at least a near outcome, was on Title 42 before I went down.” The Supreme Court is expected to make a final decision sometime this year.
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