Biden’s problem with illegal immigration

New York, January 9 – US President Joe Biden has arrived in Mexico for a visit. A central issue is illegal immigration from Central and South America and the Caribbean countries across the two neighbors’ common border with the United States. The issue has boiled over in recent months as the United States has experienced an unprecedented influx of migrants for some time. Numerous American communities and cities along the more than 3,000-kilometer border are now sounding the alarm.

Biden is in a bind. Because on the one hand he is confronted with demands to curb illegal immigration. On the other hand, a not insignificant part of his supporters is expected to finally create a real restructuring of the immigration policy, as promised, without neglecting humanitarian aspects. But the issue is one of the hottest topics in American politics. Several attempts at reform have failed over the past few decades because Democrats and Republicans simply cannot find real common ground and often disagree internally.


Data from the US Border Protection Agency shows how big the rush to the US is at the moment. In fiscal year 2022 alone, that is, in the twelve months from October 2021 to the end of September 2022, 2.2 million arrests were recorded at the US-Mexico border. This is a record – even though the statistics show migrants who have made several attempts to cross the border in the period in question and have been repeatedly apprehended.

A drastic increase was also registered in the first year after Biden took office in January 2021. According to experts, many migrants pin their hopes on the Democrats that they will be able to return to the United States more easily after the restrictive handling during the presidency of Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump. The Republican took a tough anti-immigration course and often mentioned the issue in the same breath as the fight against drug trafficking.

Under Trump in March 2020, that is, at the beginning of the corona pandemic, the controversial “Title 42” regulation was passed: It allows migrants to be immediately rejected directly at the border, citing the protection of public health, on the grounds that that this is the containment of the pandemic. Meanwhile, health experts no longer consider the regulation necessary given that the Corona crisis has eased. Civil rights activists reject it anyway, saying it allows asylum seekers to be turned away anywhere without a legal process. Many migrants expected the rule to be lifted by the end of 2022, likely prompting more people to come to the US border. However, the Supreme Court upheld the rule in December for now. It will therefore continue to be used.

In fact, “Title 42” prevents migrants from starting an asylum process in the United States. Due to their immediate deportation at the border, they are not even allowed to formally present their concerns to immigration authorities. However, migrants who enter US soil have the right to seek asylum. This also applies if they cross the border illegally and then report to the border guards. Asylum seekers must prove that they have been persecuted in their home country because of their religion, nationality, skin colour, political opinion or belonging to a particular social group, or that they are threatened with persecution. But getting an approval can sometimes take years. The asylum procedure is complicated, lengthy, and the courts can hardly keep up with the processing of the applications.

The “Section 8” regulation applies to migrants who cannot be deported on the basis of “Section 42”. You may be remanded in custody. However, it is also possible to release them to the United States while their immigration process is pending. Asylum seekers are eligible to apply for a work permit as long as they attend court hearings and other immigration controls. Some must consent to electronic monitoring measures, such as wearing ankle bracelets. If a court hearing is missed or an application is rejected, there is a risk of deportation.


Last year, the then-Republican governors of Texas and Arizona transported thousands of migrants from the border to northern US cities such as New York and Washington. On the one hand, according to their own statement, they wanted to take the pressure off the border communities. On the other hand, a political message should be sent to Biden and his Democrats, who favor a more liberal immigration policy.

Biden himself is now pursuing a two-pronged strategy. On the one hand, he recently tightened his approach in light of the tense situation. New measures by his administration include the systematic deportation of migrants trying to come to the United States by land. Addressing the migrants, he said: “Don’t just show up at the border. Stay where you are and make a legal (entry) application from there.” On the other hand, the president wants to make the formal application for asylum easier, and his government has promised to allow up to 30,000 migrants from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela to enter the country by plane every month under certain conditions.

Background: Biden’s problem with illegal immigration

Source: Reuters

Symbolic photo: Image by Carlos Hilario on Pixabay

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