U.S. and Mexican authorities have agreed to new immigration policies designed to stop illegal border crossings and open up other avenues for the expected increase in migrants attempting the journey after the end of pandemic restrictions next week.
National Security Adviser Liz Sherwood-Randall spent Tuesday meeting with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and other high-ranking officials to finalize a five-point plan, according to statements from the two countries.
According to the agreement, Mexico it will continue to accept migrants from Venezuela, Haiti, Cuba and Nicaragua who are rejected at the border and up to 100,000 people from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador who have family in the United States will be able to choose to live and work there.
Despite sharing a 1,951-mile (more than 3,100 kilometer) border with the United States, Mexico was a notable absentee from last week’s presentation of a new package of measures that included making places outside the United States where migrants could go. to request permission to legally settle in the United States, Spain or Canada. The first centers would open in Guatemala and Colombia.
COVID-19 restrictions have allowed US authorities to turn away tens of thousands of migrants crossing the southern border, but those restrictions will be lifted on May 11 as border officials are bracing for a rush of people. Even with the restrictions, the government has recorded record numbers of people crossing the border, and President Joe Biden has responded by going after illegal crossers and creating new routes that are intended to serve as an alternative to a dangerous and often deadly journey. .
Mexico’s support is crucial for the United States to maintain control over the southern border, especially at a time when people from as far away as Haiti make their way on foot through Mexico and it is difficult to return them to their home countries. .
Now what Mexico has joined the plan, and following the announcement Tuesday that 1,500 active-duty US troops will deploy to the south to provide administrative support, among other measures, border authorities believe they will be able to manage the overload and other potential problems that may arise when the restrictions associated with COVID-19 end.
Biden, who announced a week ago that he will run for re-election, is trying to get the message across that his administration is making a serious effort to reduce the number of illegal crossings, which has been a major source of Republican criticism. He also tries to discourage people from crossing the border.
But the effort could draw uncomfortable comparisons with Biden’s Republican predecessor, Donald Trump, whose policies Biden often criticized. Congress, for its part, has refused to take any major action on immigration.
The United States will continue to turn away Cubans, Haitians, Nicaraguans and Venezuelans who cross illegally. Mexico indicated on Tuesday that it would continue to accept up to 30,000 migrants a month from those four countries, who account for the majority of illegal crossings and are not easy to return to their countries.
According to data on asylum seekers in MexicoHaitians remained the largest group with 18,860 people so far this year, more than in all of 2022.
Meanwhile, the United States will accept 30,000 people a month from those four countries for two years and offer them the chance to work legally as long as they enter legally, have eligible sponsors and pass background checks.
The government also plans to speed up procedures to screen migrants who request asylum at the border itself, quickly deport those who are not considered qualified, and penalize people who cross illegally or cross another country illegally on their way. way to the United States.
In addition, 1,500 active-duty members of the Army and Marine Corps will be deployed to the border area for 90 days. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin will try to fill those positions with reservists or National Guardsmen during that period, said Air Force Brigadier General Pat Ryder, a Pentagon spokesman. There are already 2,500 national guards on the border. They do not work as security forces, but their presence is significant.
Then-President Trump deployed active-duty troops to the border to help border patrol personnel process large caravans of migrants, along with national guardsmen already working on the job.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre downplayed the similarities between Biden’s immigration management and Trump’s use of troops. “Defense personnel have supported Customs and Border Protection for nearly two decades,” she said. “So this is standard practice.”
However, some members of Biden’s party opposed the move.
“The Biden administration’s militarization of the border is unacceptable,” said Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez, D-NJ. “There is already a humanitarian crisis in the Western Hemisphere, and deploying military personnel only indicates that migrants are a threat that requires our country’s troops to contain. Nothing could be further from the truth.”
The Pentagon on Tuesday approved a troop request submitted by the Department of Homeland Security, which manages the border.
As a condition of Austin giving his prior authorization for the National Guard to be present at the border until October 1, Homeland Security had to agree to work with the White House and Congress to develop a long-term personnel plan, in addition to cover the budget deficit to maintain the security and processing of migrants without resorting to Defense Department resources, Pentagon officials said.
Under the agreement, the Pentagon requires quarterly reports from Homeland Security on how it would staff its non-military border mission. It was not immediately clear if those reports have already begun or if border officials will be able to follow through on their side of the deal, especially under pressure from another expected uptick in migrant arrivals.
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