The Southern Border

by | Mar 22, 2021 | IMMIGRATION LAW

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas stated last week that U.S. agents are likely to intercept more migrants on the southwest border in 2021 than they have in the last 20 years. This traffic is largely prompted by the election of Joe Biden as president. Although Biden has maintained some of the policies of the previous administration, a big change and driver is his refusal to turn away unaccompanied children who arrive at the border.

His administration in an attempt to thwart the flow has been pressuring Mexico to do more to stop migrants, and last week Mexico announced that it would be sending hundreds of immigration agents and national guard troops to its southern border.

That said Biden’s efforts to discourage migrants from making the trip have been largely ineffective.

“Don’t come,” Biden said in a recent interview with ABC News, explaining that more U.S. aid to Central America was on the way. His message, which has been broadcast on social media and the radio in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, has been largely ignored.

There are no easy answers. One option is to deny people entry but that creates terrible conditions on Mexico’s side of the border. A second is to detain people in the U.S. while their applications are decided however detaining refugees is fraught and opposed by many Democrats as reminiscent of Trump’s policy.

A third option is to allow migrants entry into the United States while their cases are decided. Still, the process often takes years and raises many difficult issues as applicants settle into a life here only to be uprooted at some later date. Under current asylum laws many migrants are not good asylum candidates. A better screening process at the border could assist in making the process more equitable. The U.S. could increase legal immigration. It could build more detention facilities with humane conditions if there is such a thing. It could work to improve conditions in Latin America and to push Mexico to control its own southern border. Both long shots. The Biden administration is pursuing many of these policies and time will tell whether they succeed.

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