President Joe Biden is visiting the southern border for the first time during his presidency on Sunday.
The president is set to visit El Paso before arriving in Mexico City for an international summit on Monday and Tuesday. “The president’s very much looking forward to seeing for himself firsthand what the border security situation looks like,” said John Kirby, White House national security spokesman. “This is something that he wanted to see for himself.”
In the fiscal year 2022, there was a record-breaking 2.4 million migrant encounters at the southern border. Of Border Patrol’s sectors along the Mexico border, El Paso has become the busiest in recent months.
The visit comes a few days after Biden announced new migration policies on Thursday, expanding the use of Title 42, a Donald Trump-era policy that gives border agents the ability to quickly expel migrants at the border without the chance to claim asylum. (The Supreme Court will hear arguments about Title 42 in February, after it temporarily upheld the policy in December.)
The new policies simultaneously aim to accept 30,000 people per month from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela for two years if they have a financial sponsor and pass background checks.
“We can’t stop people from making the journey, but we can require them to come here … in an orderly way under U.S. law,” Biden said during a speech at the White House.
A number of immigration experts criticized the new policies.
Dylan Corbett, executive director of El Paso’s Hope Border Institute, lambasted the new policy, calling it “dangerous, ineffective, and inhumane policy.” He added, “For once, just once, I’d like to see this administration make the moral argument to the rest of the country that we need to put in place an effective, humane, accessible, welcoming, and compassionate system of protection at the border.”
“This week’s policy announcements are completely out of touch with the actual circumstances of people seeking asylum, many of whom arrive at our border fleeing imminent threats to their lives,” said Melissa Crow, Director of Litigation at the Center for Gender and Refugee Studies.
Even Democratic Mayor of New York Eric Adams, a Biden supporter, was disappointed by the president’s new policies: “This is a real problem that we’re facing and we need to raise that level of I believe what we need to do to resolve the issue.”
Meanwhile, Ron DeSantis, the Republican governor of Florida who is suspected to be a 2024 Trump challenger, activated the Florida National Guard on Friday after over 300 migrants arrived on January 1, according to a statement by DeSantis.
“As the negative impacts of Biden’s lawless immigration policies continue unabated, the burden of the Biden administration’s failure falls on local law enforcement who lack the resources to deal with the crisis,” DeSantis said on Friday.