Why is Biden's Immigration Policy Failing?
19:01 GMT 09.01.2023 (Updated: 19:04 GMT 09.01.2023)
© AP Photo / Marco UgarteMigrants leave Huixtla, Chiapas state, Mexico, early Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2021, as they continue their trek north toward Mexico's northern states and the U.S. border.
© AP Photo / Marco Ugarte
The United States’ immense wealth has long made the country a prime destination for residents of the not-quite-as-successful countries in the Americas who want to improve their lot, apparently without checking exactly how this wealth is distributed in the country.
During the presidency of Joe Biden, the US has found itself facing a veritable immigration crisis as thousands and thousands of migrants flocked to the country. The policies adopted by the White House in recent months have had little impact in rectifying the situation.
What Are the Main Causes of Immigrants Coming to the US Today?
The United States is one of the wealthiest nations in the world, while many countries in Central and South America, including the US’ southern neighbor Mexico, are not that fortunate, to put it mildly.
So far, the majority of migrants who sought entrance to the United States during the past year come from Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, Venezuela and Cuba, although the share of migrants arriving from other Latin American countries increased significantly over the past decade.
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That disparity, further exacerbated by economic problems in the Latin American countries, is what lies at the core of the situation where tens of thousands of people opt to try their luck to the north of Rio Grande (the river that runs along the US-Mexico border), hoping to find better employment and education prospects.
In that regard, the motives of these Latin American migrants are not that different from those of the migrants from Africa and the Middle East who seek their fortunes in the relatively wealthy states of Western Europe.
How Long is the US-Mexico Border
While migrants trying to enter the United States by crossing the Gulf of Mexico is not unheard of (as some of the former residents of the island nation of Cuba could probably attest to), the vast majority of those seeking to move from Latin American countries to the United States end up trying to cross the United States’ border with Mexico – the only country besides Canada in the north that shares a land border with the US.
Stretching for about 3,145 kilometers in total, this border is one of the world’s longest land borders between two countries, and is far from impregnable, with the movement of illicit drugs and migrants across it long being a headache for US authorities.
During his time in the Oval Office, the 45th President of the United States Donald Trump sought to rectify this problem by announcing perhaps one of his most famous (or infamous, depending on whom you ask) initiatives – the construction of a wall along the entire length of the border.
We will probably never know exactly how effective this project would have been, as Trump’s presidential successor Joe Biden promptly scrapped this undertaking after moving into the White House.
How Many Immigrants Have Entered the US in 2022?
During the fiscal year 2022, the US Border Patrol reported over 2.2 million migrant encounters (a term that encompasses both apprehensions and expulsions), as compared to about 1.66 million a year before. The total number of enforcement actions reported by the US Customs and Border Patrol Protection amounts to 1.95 million in 2021 and 2.76 million in 2022.
One can only wonder how many – if any, of course – managed to slip under the radar and enter the United States undetected.
What Has Biden Done About Immigration
Upon assuming the presidency in 2021, Joe Biden ended up in an interesting situation – he had quite a situation at the US’ southern border where the flow of migrants seeking to enter the United States showed no signs of abating, yet he appeared somewhat limited in his options as his Democratic Party relentlessly criticized the zero-tolerance policy towards migrants adopted by his predecessor Donald Trump.
Initially, Biden even promised to adopt an approach different from Trump’s, with his rhetoric possibly being interpreted as a welcoming gesture by migrants whose number has been steadily growing since the 46th POTUS was sworn in.
However, Biden has left the asylum ban largely intact, and the controversial Title 42 policy adopted amid the COVID pandemic during Trump’s presidency, which essentially allows the US authorities to expel migrants on the grounds of protecting the country from the spread of a contagious disease, also remains in place today.
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At this time, the US government appears to be trying to adopt a carrot-and-stick approach to the problem.
The carrot takes the form of the humanitarian parole program for Venezuela being expanded to allow up to 30,000 migrants from that country, as well as from Cuba, Haiti and Honduras, to enter the US if they meet certain conditions (such as having a financial sponsor, for example).
The stick in this scenario would be the US authorities’ proposal to bar from entry the migrants who try to get into the country without using the parole program or before trying first to seek asylum in the country they entered on the way to the United States.
It remains to be seen whether this approach will work out, but at this time the US government struggles to deal with the influx of migrants and the crisis on the US southern border seems to be far from over.