WASHINGTON, D.C. – President Biden made a major speech on Thursday, finally announcing the beefing-up of security at the U.S. southern border and stricter enforcement of laws meant to curb illegal immigration in response to widespread criticism over his administration’s ineffective managing of the crisis at the U.S.-Mexican border, which saw over 2.3 million migrants illegally enter the country in 2022 alone.
The speech was made ahead of Biden’s scheduled first-ever visit to the border on Sunday, with the president saying that he will be expanding programs that offer a pathway to citizenship for those who follow the rules, and rapid expulsion to Mexico for those who don’t.
“It’s important to step back and see the bigger picture,” Biden said.
Biden announced the expansion of a humanitarian parole program that offers legal entry into the U.S. for as any as 30,000 migrants and asylum seekers a month from Nicaragua, Haiti, Cuba, and Venezuela.
There were 230,000 illegal border crossings in November, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, with approximately one-third of that number hailing from Nicaragua, Haiti and Cuba.
However, an expansion of a pandemic-era rule – Title 42, which the Biden Admin unsuccessfully attempted to end – will rapidly expel up to 30,000 migrants from each of the aforementioned nations per month to Mexico if they attempt to circumvent the parole program and illegally enter the country; in addition, they will be permanently barred from the parole program and will have no hope for citizenship.
There will also be an expedited deportation process put in place where rejected migrants and asylum seekers will be rapidly ejected from the U.S. and banned from re-entering for 5 years.
Biden also called upon Congress to pass new immigration legislation, saying that his own powers as president in that regard are “limited.”
However, despite Biden’s announcements of stricter enforcement of deportation and immigration laws and new carrot-on-a-stick incentives for migrants to achieve citizenship legally – in addition to waiting until two years into his term to finally visit the border in-person – many critics of the president called the moves “too little, too late.”
Nile Gardinder, a reporter for The Telegraph, tweeted, “Only two years late in getting to the border. Joe Biden is quite possibly the laziest and most clueless president in US history.”
Rep-elect Darrell Issa (R-CA), tweeted, “Now Biden says his ‘intent’ is to visit the border next week. Too little, too late. But at least he’d get to see the crisis he created.”
Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) put a more positive – yet still critical – spin on Biden’s plans, tweeting, “If press reports are accurate, I’m pleased President Biden will finally visit our southern border – which has been completely surrendered to the cartels, smugglers, and human traffickers.”