Biden to Get a Firsthand Look at US-Mexico Border Situation
Sunday, 08 January 2023 08:06 AM EST
President Joe Biden is heading to the U.S.-Mexico border on Sunday, his first trip there as president after two years of hounding by Republicans who have hammered him as soft on border security while the number of migrants crossing spirals.
Biden is due to spend a few hours in El Paso, Texas, currently the biggest corridor for illegal crossings, due in large part to Nicaraguans fleeing repression, crime and poverty in their country. They are among migrants from four countries who are now subject to quick expulsion under new rules enacted by the Biden administration in the past week.
The president is expected to meet with border officials to discuss migration as well as the increased trafficking of fentanyl and other synthetic opioids, which are driving skyrocketing numbers of overdoses in the U.S.
Biden will visit the El Paso County Migrant Services Center and meet with nonprofits and religious groups that support migrants arriving to the U.S. It is not clear whether Biden will talk to any migrants.
“The president’s very much looking forward to seeing for himself firsthand what the border security situation looks like,” said John Kirby, White House national security spokesman. “This is something that he wanted to see for himself.”
Biden’s announcement on border security and his visit to the border are aimed in part at quelling the political noise and blunting the impact of upcoming investigations into immigration promised by House Republicans. But any enduring solution will require action by the sharply divided Congress, where multiple efforts to enact sweeping changes have failed in recent years.
Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and John Cornyn of Texas offered faint praise for Biden’s decision to visit the border, and even that was notable in the current political climate.
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“He must take the time to learn from some of the experts I rely on the most, including local officials and law enforcement, landowners, nonprofits, U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s officers and agents, and folks who make their livelihoods in border communities on the front lines of his crisis,” Cornyn said.
From El Paso, Biden will continue south to Mexico City, where he and the leaders of Mexico and Canada will gather on Monday and Tuesday for a North American leaders summit. Immigration is among the items on the agenda.
In El Paso, where migrants congregate at bus stops and in parks before traveling on, border patrol agents have stepped up security before Biden’s visit.