Biden’s visit to El Paso, the border unfolds against a complex and changing immigration backdrop

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — President Joe Biden is making his first trip to El Paso and the border since taking office — amid a complex and evolving immigration situation.

The president is expected to land at 12:45 p.m. Sunday and is expected to stay here for about three hours.

The trip comes as the president travels to Mexico to meet with the leaders of Mexico and Canada.

One of the main topics of conversation during the visit to Mexico City will be immigration, said Richard Pineda, director of the Sam Donaldson Center for Communication Studies at UTEP.

“It’s significant that he’s using El Paso as a starting point, literally and figuratively, for this conversation in Mexico,” Pineda told KTSM.

Biden’s visit also comes after Mayor Oscar Leeser issued an emergency declaration Dec. 17 as the border faces uncertainty over Title 42 and its future. The Supreme Court has since decided to keep the pandemic-era health order in place, possibly until June, until it can conduct a further review of the matter.

Title 42 has been used for more than two years to quickly turn back migrants, including those seeking asylum.

Biden will visit a slightly less chaotic border since Leeser issued his emergency declaration last month.

As of Thursday, border agents were reporting about 800 daily arrests of migrants compared to 2,400 daily encounters in mid-December.

Leeser, when releasing his statement, estimated that the border area could see up to 6,000 migrant crossings per day if Title 42 is eliminated.

“The second and most glaring (impact) for the residents of Borderland is the situation that has unfolded over the past few weeks in the run up to and now the 42 title delay,” Pineda told KTSM. “This has emphasized efforts to minimize undocumented immigration to the United States.

“It also shed light on Title 42 and how it affected asylum seekers,” Pineda continued.

Last week, the president unveiled a new online procedure for migrants to apply for asylum.

Migrant advocates criticized the new procedure and called on the president to meet with migrants themselves during his visit.

On Saturday, the Border Network for Human Rights organized a rally and march ahead of the president’s visit to call for more humane treatment of migrants.

Republicans and other critics of the administration say the trip is nothing more than a photo op.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott told Fox News, “All he’s going to do there is rearrange the chairs on the deck of the Titanic. He will find no solution that will make the border safer, more secure or stop illegal immigration.

Irene Armendariz-Jackson, a Republican who ran against incumbent U.S. Representative Veronica Escobar, D-El Paso, and lost the last two election cycles, is organizing a protest against the president’s visit.


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