As a Webb County Democrat, who has followed with much dismay the chronic problems that we have faced in our attempts to resolve the immigration issues that have plagued our southern border for decades, I applaud today’s news that President Biden will soon be traveling to the El Paso Sector of the U.S.-Mexico Border on Sunday. His intent: to shine light on efforts by the Biden-Harris Administration to address this critical issue.
If the philosophy of the Laredo Morning Times is to inform and educate its readers on issues that are of special import to us, then I urge you to share the following overview of this very important visit that President Biden will soon be making to El Paso.
- President Biden has a proven track record of pragmatic, bipartisan leadership on issues that are critical to Texas and the well-being of Texas’ working families: whether that be fixing our broken infrastructure, making Texas one of the world’s foremost technological innovation hubs, or, today, stepping up efforts at the country’s southern border to further address the current elevated number of international migrants crossing illegally into Texas.
- As the President said today, our immigration system is broken. That has been true for decades now, regardless of which party has held the White House. This current historic number of migrants – fleeing political oppression and gang violence in Venezuela, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Cuba – has nothing to do with the party in power in Washington.
- But, unlike Republicans, who just use this humanitarian crisis as a fundraising tool or a way to demagogue and stoke racist fears, the Biden-Harris Administration and Texas Democrats know the buck stops with us and it’s our responsibility to handle this problem – with our Party’s trademark compassion, fairness, pragmatism, and competence.
- As President Biden said today: this is a hard one to deal with, but we must deal with it.
- We look forward to welcoming President Biden to El Paso this weekend. The firsthand experiences he’ll have seeing our border enforcement operations, as well as the conversations he’ll have with our brave CBP personnel, will help inform Executive Branch actions to improve and streamline border operations.
- But critically, we know what the President said today holds true: these efforts will not fix the border problem completely.
- We desperately need Republicans in Congress to finally put partisan politics aside and work with us in good faith to fix our country’s broken immigration system.
- For context: President Biden’s visit to El Paso comes after Republicans rejected the Biden-Harris Administration’s requests of an additional $3.5 billion to secure the border, funds for 2,000 new asylum officers and 100 new immigration judges.
- That failure to pass and fund a comprehensive plan has increased the challenges that we’re seeing at our southwest border.
- Republicans could either keep using immigration to score political points or can come together to fix the broken system.
- Immigration reform is broadly supported – by labor unions, religious leaders etc. It is the economically smart thing to do.
Border Security and Enforcement
- President Biden has a plan to increase security and reduce the number of individuals crossing unlawfully between ports of entry. His administration is imposing consequences to limit disorderly migration, expanding legal pathways for orderly migration, and surging additional resources to the southern border.
- Republican officials have no plan. After spending four years gutting our immigration system under the prior Administration, they’re now blocking the comprehensive immigration reform and border security measures President Biden sent to Congress on his first day in office and opposing the funds needed for border management and security.
- The Biden-Harris Administration has a plan.
- While Title 42 remains in place due to court orders, the Biden-Harris Administration is taking steps to proactively manage the border in a safe, orderly, and humane manner.
- Today, the Biden-Harris Administration announced actions to:
- Increase legal pathways to enter the U.S. legally for those who qualify.
- Impose additional consequences for individuals who attempt to enter unlawfully.
- Surge additional resources to the border to increase security, expand support for border communities, and accelerate the review of asylum claims.
- Increase humanitarian assistance to help Mexico and Central America respond to the increased humanitarian and protection needs.
- The Biden-Harris Administration is implementing this plan in close partnership with Mexico and governments across the Western Hemisphere.
- The plan also draws on the success of the Venezuela initiative, which launched in October 2022 and has resulted in a dramatic drop in the number of Venezuelan nationals attempting to enter the United States unlawfully.
- Importantly, the end of Title 42 will not mean the border is open. When Title 42 lifts, the government will return to Title 8, which provides longstanding immigration enforcement authorities that multiple Administrations – Republican and Democrat alike – have used to process individuals encountered at the border. Individuals without proper papers or a valid claim to remain will continue to be promptly removed.
- And unlike Title 42, Title 8 carries additional consequences for unlawful migration, including a five-year ban on reentry.
- Republican officials have no plan.
- The Biden-Harris Administration has a plan and is acting.
- Thanks to the record funds President Biden has secured for border security and management:
- They’ve got 23,000 agents working to secure the border and will soon be hiring 300 more – the first increase since 2011.
- They’re taking thousands of smugglers off the streets.
- They’re catching record levels of fentanyl before it even reaches our border.
- They’re bringing leaders across the Western Hemisphere together to limit disorderly migration throughout the region.
- They’re installing state-of-the art border security technologies like automated surveillance towers and linear ground detection systems.
- They’re surging additional asylum officers and immigration judges to review asylum cases, with the aim of bringing processing times down from months to days.
- They’re increasing support for border communities and NGO’s assisting migrants.
- Republican officials have no plan and are just playing political games.
- They spent four years under the prior Administration destroying our already broken immigration system – closing off any legal pathway for asylum they could find, cutting off critical aid to stabilize the Western Hemisphere, ripping babies out of their mothers’ arms, and so much more.
- Now, instead of taking the border challenge seriously, they’re blocking the comprehensive immigration reform and border security measures President Biden proposed on his first day in office and opposing the funds needed for border security.
- Republican officials don’t want solutions; they want chaos.
- The Biden-Harris Administration inherited a broken immigration system that, because of years of Congressional inaction and the previous Administration’s destructive policies, does not serve our national interests and makes it much harder for legal migration to take place in a safe, humane, and orderly way.
- On his first day in office, President Biden sent Congress a comprehensive immigration reform bill to crack down on illegal immigration and strengthen legal immigration. He also requested record funds to support the men and women of the Department of Homeland Security working day and night to secure the border.
- Congress must act – both to provide the resources the Biden Administration has asked for to strengthen enforcement and to pass comprehensive immigration reform measures.
- Until they do, President Biden will continue to use the tools he has available to him to enforce our immigration laws. Today, the Administration is announcing additional enforcement actions to prevent unlawful immigration, expand legal pathways for immigration, and increase border security.
- The new border enforcement actions will:
- Increase legal pathways to enter the U.S. legally for those who qualify, which includes adding Nicaragua, Cuba, and Haiti to the parole program that already exists for Venezuelans and tripling refugee resettlement admission from the Western Hemisphere this fiscal year.
- Impose consequences for individuals who attempt to enter unlawfully.This includes increasing the use of expedited removal for those who cannot be expelled under Title 42 and issuing a proposed rule that would encourage individuals to seek orderly and lawful pathways to migration and reduce the strain on the immigration system. Mexico will also receive up to 30,000 people each month from Venezuela, Nicaragua, Cuba and Haiti.
- Surge additional resources for border management to increase security, accelerate the review of asylum claims, disrupt criminal smuggling networks, and support communities receiving screened and vetted migrants awaiting their immigration court proceedings.
- These actions are being taken in close partnership with Mexico and governments across the Western hemisphere. They are also based on a model that we have already seen work. The Venezuela Parole Program, for instance, significantly reduced the number of encounters of Venezuelan migrants at the border by 90 percent since we launched it in October.
- While these steps will help address some of the most acute challenges at the Southwest border, they will not solve all the problems in an immigration system that has been broken for far too long. Congress must act to truly fix our broken immigration system.
In closing, as a Webb County Democrat who understands that the immigration system is in critical need of reformation, I applaud today’s newly announced efforts by the Biden-Harris Administration to both increase border security and bring much needed reform to the system, thrilled at the news that President Biden will be traveling to El Paso to address it.
Sylvia Bruni, County Chair-Webb County Democratic Party