Border Patrol under pressure due to wave of migration, Biden administration weakens

WASHINGTON — The arrival of thousands of migrants from Mexico every day puts the states and the federal border police of the United States under pressure, a crisis that exposes the administration of Democrat Joe Biden to strong questions for its management at the border.

In recent weeks, border police report 10,000 to 12,000 crossings per day, a more intense pace than in previous months.

More than 3.2 million migrants were intercepted by land between October 2022 and September 2023, a flow also higher than in previous years.

Since last Tuesday, the railroad tracks at the Eagle Pass and El Paso bridges, in Texas, were closed due to a “resurgence” of illegal entries of migrants on freight trains, but on Friday the measure was lifted after Mexico agreed to collaborate to stop the avalanche of migrants.

At Eagle Pass, vehicle crossings have been suspended again since the beginning of the month, as have a crossing point in Arizona and another in California. The border police say they are having to redeploy their personnel to focus on intercepting and registering migrants.

Deliberate inaction

After accusing President Biden of “deliberate inaction” in the face of the situation, the Republican governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, signed a controversial law on Monday that penalizes illegal entries in his state.

The law creates a “criminal offense of illegally entering Texas from a foreign country,” punishable by six months to 20 years in prison for repeat offenses.

The text, which could come into force in March, gives state authorities the power to arrest immigrants and deport them to Mexico, prerogatives that in principle fall to federal authorities.

The next day, several human rights organizations, including the influential American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), filed a lawsuit challenging it on the grounds of unconstitutionality.

Arizona Governor Katie Hobbs, despite being a Democrat, also accused the Biden administration of “refusing to do its job”, blaming it in particular for the closure of a border crossing in her state. Hobbs announced on December 15 that he was sending National Guard forces to the border.

“A system that doesn’t work”

The reasons for this recent influx are not so clear.

Border police blame “misinformation spread by human traffickers towards vulnerable people.”

Several immigrants interviewed in Texas spoke of rumors about an imminent closure of the border. “There were rumors that starting on the 20th they would no longer let anyone in,” explained Yurianlis Alexmar Camacho, 32, who arrived from Venezuela with her husband and her four children.

Biden will send to Mexico in the coming days the Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, and the Minister of National Security, Alejandro Mayorkas, to analyze together with the president of that country, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, ways to stop this massive flow.

“The president understands the need to repair the immigration system, which has not worked for decades,” insisted White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre.

On December 6, Biden said he was willing to make “significant compromises” with Republicans, who are demanding a sharp tightening of immigration policy in exchange for lifting his congressional blockade on aid to Ukraine vis-à-vis Russia.

Immigration on the rise

The situation of the Democratic president is also delicate in the face of his progressive electorate that defends undocumented immigration, mainly those from Latin America who arrive fleeing poverty and violence.

In any case, the flow does not appear to be close to reversing.

Panama noted on December 6 that since the beginning of the year, half a million people had crossed the dangerous Darien jungle, which separates this country from Colombia, to reach the United States, double the number in 2022.

FOUNTAIN: With information from AFP