February 6, 2023

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30,000 visas per month for Latinos.

US President Joe Biden at the White House – Reuters

“Ordered, safe and humane.” These are the three adjectives President Joe Biden used in the new immigration plan presented yesterday at the White House. A package of “unprecedented measures” as defined by the Democrats. In fact, the US president has tried to use the battle with the Republicans over Title 42 to his advantage, which for almost three years has been closing the border with Mexico also for asylum seekers “for health reasons”.

After trying several times to overturn it and being besieged by the Supreme Court, which agreed with the conservatives, Biden chose to restart. Promising, on the one hand, new ways of legal immigration, especially for those coming from Cuba, Nicaragua and Haiti. On the other hand, it has used Title 42 to expedite the expulsions of those who cross the border irregularly.

A kind of carrot and stick to try to solve the chaos on the border, which has dragged on for years due to the multiplication of crises in Latin America and which, as expected, flared up again with the end of the pandemic. Every day, on average, nine thousand migrants caught trying to cross the Rio Bravo are stopped, for a total of 2.2 million in the last fiscal year, the record since 2010. Thanks to Title 42, most of them are turned back, on the other side on borders, which creates a real bottleneck.

Tens of thousands of people have been waiting for weeks or months along La Linea – 3,000 km between the US and Mexico – in makeshift tents in tent cities, waiting for the right moment to try again or for the entry ban to be lifted. A situation that has been repeatedly denounced by human rights activists and defenders. And the hard-line Republicans used it to attack the administration and ride the “invasion” leitmotif.

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Now, after the midterm, Biden wanted to take the issue head-on. Hence the decision to head to El Paso on Sunday, the epicenter of the immigration crisis, with shelters collapsing, so much so that Democratic Mayor Oscar Lesser declared a state of emergency in the last week of December. So far, the president has always refused to bow to governors’ requests to head to the border to “avoid media performances.” But this time, he took the opportunity of the North American leaders’ summit, scheduled for Monday and Tuesday in Mexico City, to stop in the Texas town where he would return to the issue of security. It is an issue that will also be among the priorities of the Mexico City summit.

However, the president himself has already anticipated the bulk of the package of measures. The facilities provided to Venezuelans have also been extended to include Nicaraguans, Cubans and Haitians. That is, the possibility of a third party, rooted in the United States, applying for a two-year work permit in the name of another person of the aforementioned nationalities, provided that he can prove his ability to support himself and stay in his country. home until the completion of bureaucratic procedures. Up to 30,000 Haitians, Nicaraguans, Cubans and Venezuelans will be accommodated per month under this provision.

However, at the same time, a similar amount could be immediately sent to Mexico – which agreed to receive them – in the event that it decided to emigrate irregularly. Moreover, anyone who stopped at the border would not be able to enter the reception program. Washington also tripled the number of Latino refugees for 2023 and 2024 to 20,000. “These measures won’t fix all the problems in the system, but they can help us better manage the challenge.” At least until — that’s the message to Congress — Republicans will not be willing to support immigration reform. A dream that Biden has cherished since the Obama era. This time the conservative front managed to block his path. Now start the new game.

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