It is a balancing act that the American president has lent himself to. Joe Biden on Thursday tried to send a message that combines firmness and humanity in the face of the record arrivals of migrants at the border with Mexico, a politically dangerous issue in the United States. The Democrat vowed to fix a “broken” immigration system in a White House speech while acknowledging that this “difficult” problem would not be solved “overnight.”
On the one hand, he criticized “extreme” Republicans, accusing them of “demagoguery” in the face of the migration crisis and accusing them of blocking his requests for funding to deal with the problem. “We can secure our border and fix immigration policy so that it is orderly, safe and humane, we can do all of this without extinguishing the flame of freedom that has brought generations of immigrants to America,” he launched.
But his administration has nevertheless announced “new consequences” for migrants who cross the border illegally: the United States will more often resort to immediate deportations, accompanied by a ban on re-entry into the territory for five years. More than 230,000 arrests were still recorded in November at the US southern border, a record high.
However, the White House also said that up to 30,000 skilled migrants would instead be allowed to enter the United States each month from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela, the four countries from which the majority come. However, these arrivals will have to be by air so as not to increase the workload of border guards on the ground and within the framework of a legal process.
No withdrawal of the “Section 42” measure
Faced with constant criticism from his opposition, but also from associations in defense of migrants, Joe Biden, who plans to run for a second term, seems finally determined to raise the issue. So far, his administration has been mostly content to send migrants back to Mexico based on a measure introduced by his Republican predecessor Donald Trump during the pandemic.
In the name of the health crisis, it makes it possible to immediately turn away any illegal alien intercepted at the border, including potential asylum seekers. This measure, called “Title 42”, is the subject of an intense legal guerilla war, the epilogue of which will be known in June at the United States Supreme Court. The Biden administration, aware that repealing this measure will further encourage immigration candidates, is calling for funds to recruit border staff as well as judges specializing in asylum.