Advertisement

Biden visits U.S.-Mexico border to focus on immigration

President Joe Biden on Sunday is to visit the U.S.-Mexico border for the first time in office as pressure grows for his administration to do something to ease tension with an increasing number of migrants making the trip there. Photo courtesy of Rep. Henry Cuellar/Twitter
1 of 2 | President Joe Biden on Sunday is to visit the U.S.-Mexico border for the first time in office as pressure grows for his administration to do something to ease tension with an increasing number of migrants making the trip there. Photo courtesy of Rep. Henry Cuellar/Twitter

Jan. 8 (UPI) -- President Joe Biden visited the U.S.-Mexico border for the first time in office on Sunday as pressure grows for his administration to do something to ease tension with an increasing number of migrants making the trip there.

Biden arrived at 11:45 a.m. MST in El Paso, Texas, where he spent several hours before heading to Mexico where he is to attend the North American Leaders' Summit, which is to be held on Monday and Tuesday.

Advertisement

"Today, I'm traveling to El Paso to visit the border and meet with local leaders," Biden said in a statement.

"Our border communities represent the best of our nation's generosity and we're going to get them more support while expanding legal pathways for orderly immigration and limiting illegal immigration."

During a early afternoon press conference, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters that Biden was to meet with "federal, state, and local officials and community leaders" to discuss the migration challenges.

Advertisement

Biden also toured the Bridge of the Americas Port of Entry with U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers as well as members of Congress and local officials before visiting the El Paso County Migrant Services Center.

Asked what he learned from his first trip to the border, Biden replied: "They need a lot of resources. We're going to get it for them."

The president was joined on the trip by Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas as well as Texas Reps. Veronica Escobar, Henry Cuellar and Vicente Gonzalez and El Paso Mayor Oscar Leeser.

"I look forward to meeting with El Paso officials, law enforcement, and Homeland Security personnel to discuss how to bring order to the border and treat migrants with respect as we implement a lawful path for relief," Cuellar said in a statement as he shared an image of Air Force One arriving in Texas.

Biden has received bipartisan criticism for not doing enough to slow the border chaos. Biden responded last week by announcing new measures to beef up security while allowing up to 30,000 per month to apply for asylum before traveling to the border.

Advertisement

Some of those measures, like embracing Trump-era Title 42 that will allow them to immediately remove migrants because of COVID-19, drew anger among some of Biden's own supporters.

"It's enraging and sad to see a Democratic administration make it harder for vulnerable people to seek asylum all because they're scared of angry MAGA voters on this issue," a member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus told CNN.

In El Paso, migrant levels have hit record numbers with the anticipation of the Biden administration getting rid of Title 42 and making it easier to get into the United States. Late last month, the city declared the migrant surge a state of emergency.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, has been feuding with Biden over the migrant situation, and on Sunday said he handed the president upon his arrival in El Paso a letter calling on more to be done to stymie the surge.

"Your visit to our southern border with Mexico today is $20 billion too little and two years too late," the letter read. "This chaos is the direct result of your failure to enforce the immigration laws that Congress enacted."

Advertisement

While Republicans and conservatives have blamed Biden's policies for the migrant surge, the White House said it has been the result of a combination of "root causes" like poverty, corruption and violence in Central America, and a broken U.S. immigration system that Congress has failed to fix.

"The actions we're announcing today will make things better -- will make things better but will not fix the border problem completely," Biden said on Thursday. "There's more that has to be done, and I laid that out in the first week I was here.

"That work will not be done unless and until Congress enacts and funds a more comprehensive immigration plan that I proposed on day one."

Some governors have taken controversial measures in dealing with immigrants crossing the border. Republican governors in Texas and Florida have bussed migrants to so-called "sanctuary cities" like Chicago and New York City. More recently, Colorado, which has a Democratic governor, started to do the same but announced Saturday an end to that policy.

Latest Headlines