WASHINGTON – Biden’s government warned on Tuesday that the United States will be more concerned this year along the southwestern border as ever over the past two decades, and it underscores the urgency for the White House to develop solutions to the chronic problems of immigration from Central America.
The grim prediction by Alejandro N. Mayorkas, the Secretary of Homeland Security, came when President Biden was attacked for dealing with a border riot involving thousands of unaccompanied children and teenagers from the region – with attacks coming from the right came from not being tough enough and from the left not being human enough.
The president pleaded for time and patience and blamed his predecessor for dismantling the immigration system in his zeal to keep foreigners out. But even Mr. Biden’s top advisers acknowledge that following the disruption of President Donald J. Trump’s harsh policies, there is no easy or quick solution to a recurring crisis.
“We have no illusions about how difficult it is, and we know it will take time,” he said. Mayorkas said in a statement on Tuesday when the House was ready to vote on various immigration measures this week, urging the government to provide more housing for the young migrants arriving at the border. But, he added, “We will do it.”
The approach developed by the government involves steps that it can take relatively quickly and others that will take longer and that require Congress or cooperation from the governments of Central American countries. And that will have to do with different categories of people, including underage minors who are now overpowering the system and ultimately asylum-seeking families and those who want to slip past border agents.
In the short term – because warmer weather invites even more people to move north – the government of Mr. Biden finds a way to temporarily look after the thousands of migrant children who arrive at the U.S. border without a legal guardian.
This includes the expansion of facilities where the children can be kept legally under the supervision of the Border Patrol for up to 72 hours. And that means finding more places to live where migrant children can live for weeks or even months while the government looks for a family member or friend to take care of them, while officials decide whether to return to their homeland.
The Biden administration is struggling to increase capacity rapidly. But the longer-term challenges are even more discouraging.
Mr. Biden’s advisers have said they want to set up systems in Mexico that will provide migrants with a way to submit applications to shelter in the United States in an orderly, secure manner without having to cross the border. But it will take months and it is not yet clear whether migrants will use it.
For those who do seek asylum, the team of mr. Biden said it would shorten the review process, which could currently take years to reach a final decision. Mr. Mayorkas said asylum cases should be decided within weeks. But to make that happen, you have to invest money and hire people to deal with huge backlogs.
Finally, Mr. Biden promises to significantly increase support for places like Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala so that Central Americans no longer feel the need to flee their homes. But even with the $ 4 billion proposed by the president, rebuilding societies rebuilt by violence, gangs and stagnant economies will take years or decades – if it works at all.
All the solutions that Mr. Biden considered has been under discussion for decades, often incorporated into comprehensive immigration legislation that has repeatedly failed to pass through Congress, and has fallen victim to deeply biased divisions.
For now, Mr. Biden put an emergency rule of the Trump era in place that empowers agents to quickly dismiss most other migrants other than minor minors without giving them a chance to make their asylum claims heard.
The administration, they ask for patience, but it only takes as long as you look at these kinds of numbers. And what happens after patience? “Said R. Gil Kerlikowske, a Commissioner for Customs and Border Protection under President Barack Obama. ‘What is the plan to deal with it? What is the plan going forward? ”
During the current fiscal year, which began on October 1, Customs and Border Protection recorded more than 396,000 attractions, including in official ports of entry, compared to about 201,600 during the same period last financial year.
The majority of the crosses were single parents, who according to current rules are often expelled quickly to Mexico or their homelands. But unaccompanied children are first taken to a detention center by a border agent, after which they have to be transferred to a shelter run by the Department of Health and Human Services within 72 hours.
The shelters worked until recently with limited capacity due to the coronavirus pandemic, which left thousands of minors in prisons along the border, including some left on carpets with foil sheets, according to lawyers visiting a facility in Texas.
But even before the pandemic, the shelter system was often pushed beyond capacity.
The Biden administration ordered the shelters this month to return to their normal capacity so the government could increase the number of available beds in the shelters by about 40 percent.
With the number of minors climbing the border, the government is now finding extra space, including in a conference center in downtown Dallas; at a former camp for oilfielders in Midland, Texas; at a NASA site in California; and at a tent camp in Arizona.
The government is also trying to reduce the amount of time it takes to transfer a child from border facilities to the shelters by streamlining a system that sends them through three different bureaucracies: the border patrol, the immigration and customs agency and the Department of Health and Human Services. Coordination between the three agencies often broke down and resulted in delays.
The Biden administration has begun placing Department of Health and Human Services officials in border facilities to speed up the process of finding a family member or other sponsor in the United States who could take in the migrants.
While the government continues to enact the emergency pandemic rule to dismiss most adults and migrating families, senior Homeland Security officials have acknowledged that they will only be able to use the emergency rule as long as the vaccination becomes more available.
Meanwhile, the president and his top border officials have issued statements about the dangerous trip to the United States in hopes of discouraging migration to the border.
Last week, the administration held a series of private calls with pro-immigrant groups and advocates to discuss the immigration agenda of Mr. Pray to discuss. David Shahoulian, a leading immigration official at the Department of Homeland Security, said the messages to discourage migrants from coming did not work and that the administration would need to be clearer in the future, especially as smugglers continue to encourage migrants to travel . according to a people familiar with the call.
Mr. Mayorkas said this month that the administration’s message was not “do not come”, but rather “do not come now.” Roberta S. Jacobson, a special assistant who oversees border issues, initially said incorrectly in Spanish during a newsletter that the border was not closed, but then corrected herself to say it was closed.
Medium Term Solutions
The administration is working with Central American countries to reduce the pressure on the border, said Mr. Shahoulian said on the call. And it is exploring options to speed up the processing of asylum cases.
“We are shortening the time it takes to shorten an asylum claim from year to month,” he said. Mayorkas said in a statement on Tuesday, adding that the government would soon introduce a regulation to improve the system.
Mr. Biden said in his campaign platform that he would increase the number of judges and immigration officials to combat a backlog that nearly doubled during the Trump administration to more than 1.2 million cases.
Mr Biden has already started Obama-era Central American Minority Program Begins, which was intended to allow some children in their home region to obtain permission to live with a parent or other family member in the United States. When Mr. Trump ended the program, about 3,000 Central American children were approved to travel to the United States.
It will take time to set up the program, which meets strict requirements, to verify the relationships between children and their family members.
The government is now eager to investigate even wider efforts to consider remote asylum applications.
The administration is already testing a system where migrants, who have been told by the Trump administration to wait in the bad camps in Mexico along the border, can use an app on their cell phones to seek asylum and their to track cases. That kind of system could be extended more widely, officials said.
“This is the roadmap forward for a system that is safe, orderly and fair,” he said. Mayorkas said.
Many of the changes that Mr. Biden Wants has been included in comprehensive immigration legislation he sent to Congress on his first day in office. But the bill is far from being law, especially with Mr. Trump and other Republicans who again use immigration to advance their partisan base.
Mr. Biden’s most ambitious – and most difficult – goal is to use the wealth and diplomatic power of the United States to reform the region in hopes of reducing the root causes of migration from Central America, beginning with poverty and violence.
This is an attempt that has been tried before. Mr. Obama and members of Congress from both parties have agreed to invest several hundred million dollars in Central America in the hope of improving the courts, reducing the cartels and improving economic conditions.
Mr. Trump cut spending, arguing it was a waste of money before repairing some of it. But the team of mr. Biden bet that even more investment will yield results. In Honduras, for example, the country’s coffee production has been hit by hurricanes and falling coffee bean prices, which has driven many people into poverty.
But it can take years to reverse such economic trends.
“When the president talks about ‘root causes’, it’s immediate humanitarian aid, but a lot of it is policy and aid together, and make sure you address the causes of migration,” she said. Jacobson said. “Otherwise, you see ongoing cycles.”