Biden will make the first visit to the US-Mexico border since taking office Joe Biden news

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The President of the United States Joe Biden has made his first trip to the border between the US and Mexico since he took office in January 2022.

The hour-long visit on Sunday followed a recently announced policy initiative by the Biden administration intended to address an increase in undocumented border crossings.

The politically charged case has dogged the Democratic president since he took office, with Republican critics charging the administration has been too lenient, and rights groups raising concerns the newly announced measures put the lives of asylum seekers at risk.

The stop in the city of El Paso, Texas, took place as Biden traveled to Mexico, where he will meet with President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Monday before going to a three-way conference with the Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau the next day in Mexico City.

“They need a lot of resources. We’re going to get it to them,” Biden told reporters in Texas, where he met with border agents at the Bridge of the Americas, which connects El Paso to the Mexican city of Ciudad Juarez , and is one of the busiest ports of entry. between the two countries.

During the trip, Biden watched as border officials in El Paso demonstrated how they search vehicles for drugs, money and other contraband. He later inspected part of the high fence on the border between El Paso and Ciudad Juarez.

Meanwhile, in a sign of deep political tensions over immigration, Republican Governor Greg Abbott handed Biden a letter upon his arrival saying the alleged “chaos” at the border was “a result just” on the president’s failure to enforce federal laws.

Controversial asylum policies

Last week, the Biden administration unveiled new immigration rules that it expects will “significantly reduce” the number of people trying to cross the southern border, Biden said. to reporters at the time.

The rules create a new program that will allow up to 30,000 Cuban, Haitian, Nicaraguan and Venezuelan nationals legal passage into the US each month and obtain two-year work permits, as long as have a bond in the US and pass background checks.

In turn, the policy allows US authorities to extradite Mexican residents of those four countries who cross the border irregularly and prevent them from accessing the program. Mexico has agreed to accept 30,000 residents from the four countries in a month, according to the administration.

Rights groups say the policy is harmful to individuals who have no other choice but to cross the border irregularly to seek asylum. They claim the new policy is an extension of former President Donald Trump’s Title 42, which allows authorities to quickly deport asylum seekers crossing the border, citing concerns health of COVID-19.

After a long court battle, a US federal judge in November ordered the lifting of Title 42, but the US Supreme Court agreed late last month to consider whether Republican-led states can challenge end of the policy, leaving it in place at this time. .

In the wake of the announcement last week, Heidi Altman, policy director at the National Immigration Justice Center, accused the Biden administration of “openly rejecting” the US law, which “says clearly it is legal to reach the border and seek asylum”.

Aboard Air Force One on Sunday, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas told reporters that the administration was trying to “promote a safe and orderly approach and cut out the smuggling gangs.”

He said the policy was not “prevention at all”, but that an effort to protect migrants and refugees from smuggling would create trauma.

Drugs, Mexico’s main circuit economy

After the border visit, Mr. Biden was to continue to Mexico, where the increase in crossings, as well as efforts to combat the trafficking of fentanyl and other drugs that have fueled a deadly addiction crisis in of the USA, to be at the top of the agenda. of the bilateral meeting with Lopez Obrador.

On Saturday, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said Washington was “making progress” with its partners to seize illegal opioids and other drugs, calling it an “ongoing effort.” ‘ there.

Mexico has long been plagued by cartel-related bloodshed that has killed more than 340,000 people since the government deployed the military in its war on drugs in 2006. -campaign, Lopez Obrador promised to move away from the military approach, but critics say he made only superficial changes. However, it has been said that Mexico City is seeking investment in regional economic development from Washington.

A few days before Mr. Biden’s visit, the Mexican security forces captured the son of the famous drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, who is serving a life sentence in the US.

On Tuesday, efforts to strengthen economic ties are expected to dominate a trilateral summit of the leaders of the US, Mexico and Canada.

The meeting comes amid Mexico’s energy dispute with the US and Canada, with Washington and Ottawa arguing that Lopez Obrador’s efforts to control the market for his cash-strapped state energy companies are breaking trade. of the United States-Mexico-Canada (USMCA). business

The US and Canada have launched dispute resolution proceedings against Mexico, dashing hopes of supporting cooperation in jobs and investment.

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