Blog Post: President Biden’s Border Visit and Border Policies
January 30, 2023
Law Enforcement Immigration Task Force Blog
On January 8th, President Biden visited the US-Mexico border for the first time since taking office amid growing pressure and criticism from Republicans and Democrats about the state of the country’s immigration system. Although his visit to El Paso was brief, Biden met with Border Patrol officers, members of Congress, and other leaders in the area including the mayor of El Paso and NGOs that provide resources to migrants.
The intention of Biden’s trip was to assess border enforcement operations and meet with local leaders who are handling historic numbers of migrant encounters. Biden reflected on what he learned during his trip saying, “They need a lot of resources. We’re going to get it for them.” Chief Ramon Batista of Santa Monica, California felt encouraged by Biden’s visit sharing that: “The President’s recent visit to the US/Mexico border inspired me to believe in our Country’s ability to do something affirmative about our Nation’s immigration laws.”
President Biden’s border trip comes just days after his administration announced new border enforcement actions to curb illegal migration. The new actions include expanding legal migration pathways, increasing the use of fast-track removal procedures, and expanding resources and personnel to help manage the border. Chief Chad Kasmar of Tucson, Arizona describes the importance of securing resources for the border: “Increased humanitarian assistance for nonprofits and faith-based organizations that serve immigrants is also much-needed and appreciated – as are this administration’s efforts to work with, and secure increased funding for, law enforcement in border communities. This support will help us deal more effectively with the crimes of human trafficking and drug smuggling.”
Notable among the new actions is the administration’s decision to extend and expand the Venezuelan parole process to Nicaraguans, Haitians, and Cubans. Under this policy, up to 30,000 eligible individuals per month from these countries will come to the U.S. for a period of two years and receive work authorization. The administration also announced that it would work to disrupt criminal smuggling networks by scaling up anti-smuggling operations. This is an important step in securing safety for all our communities. “The importance of keeping our immigrant communities safe cannot be underscored enough. Immigrants unable to defend themselves make for perfect victims. As law enforcement officers in this country, we must be proactive in protecting them,” says Chief Batista.
It is encouraging to see the Biden administration working to address challenges at the border. Increasing the use of humanitarian parole and investing resources to disrupt criminal smuggling networks, will help federal law enforcement officials prioritize catching criminals that often prey on vulnerable migrants. Ultimately, immigration enforcement is a federal responsibility and Congress must create bipartisan immigration reform that is just and humane. Among the possible reforms is permitting undocumented immigrants who are already living and working in the U.S. to apply for legal, provisional status while they work toward permanent residency.
Chief Batista shares final thoughts saying: “I recognize the monumental challenge of addressing immigration, yet I never stop hoping and believing that as the greatest Nation in the world, we can do it.”
On a similar note, Chief Kasmar says: “I would encourage our congressional representatives to provide the funding the president has asked for in this regard, along with passing comprehensive immigration reform.”
Thank you to Chief Batista and Chief Kasmar for their contributions.