President Biden has proposed legislation that would legalize the presence of more than 11 million undocumented migrants now living in the United States. If the legislation is passed, most of these people will be able to seek permanent residence and eventually US citizenship. Trouble may be brewing, however. Thousands of more migrants, many of them unaccompanied children, are pouring over the southern border, overwhelming immigration detention facilities.
On the surface, President Biden appears to be facing a no-win situation. If he releases these migrants into the US to await their immigration court dates, they could disappear. At this point, he would be accused of administering what amounts to an “open borders” immigration policy. If, on the other hand, he detains these migrants in overcrowded immigration facilities, he will be accused of committing the same human rights abuses that his own party criticized Trump for.
Why Biden is Being Blamed
President Biden´s political opponents have seized upon his promise of permanent residence and citizenship offer to undocumented migrants who are already in the US. They argue that it provides an incentive for migrants to sneak across the border and then just “wait it out” until the next immigration amnesty is offered. Republicans also accuse Biden of seeking eventual citizenship for Hispanic migrants because they historically tend to vote for Democratic candidates.
The Situation is Getting Worse
The crisis is growing worse, not better. In January 2021 about 80,000 people attempted to cross the southern border illegally, which amounts to about double the number that attempted to cross a year earlier, in January 2020. All of this has occurred despite the fact that the US has become the epicenter of a global pandemic since then.
Additionally, the number of unaccompanied children arriving at the US border has quadrupled since October 2020. With peak travel season hitting around May and June, it is difficult to forecast just how many migrants will be seeking entry to the United States.
Meanwhile, President Biden´s options are narrowing. To detain child migrants, US Customs & Border Protection is projected to need another 20,000 beds–not including the additional number of beds that will be needed to house adults. Most of these migrants come not from Mexico but from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. These migrants are fleeing for their lives–two-thirds report close family members kidnapped or killed back home.
Biden Ends Trump’s Disastrous “Remain in Mexico” Program
Tent cities had been popping up all over northern Mexico, an area that is home to numerous drug cartels that have turned Mexico into the home of some of the worlds most dangerous cities. The last migrants caught in the Trump administration’s “Remain in Mexico” web left for the US on March 5, where their asylum cases will be processed. Another 40,000 returned home after their asylum applications were rejected.
Deterring these migrants through strict enforcement of US immigration laws, as the Trump administration sought to do, will not be easy. A more sensible way, to the extent that it is practically feasible, is to encourage migrants to apply for asylum in the US and then successfully process their cases as soon as possible.
Migrants who are represented by immigration attorneys, who apply for asylum in the US, are about 50 pércent likely to obtain the relief they seek if they are in detention why they apply. This rate rises to well over 60 percent if they are represented but have never been detained. Corresponding rates for unrepresented migrants hover well under 50 percent. If you are seeking entry to the United States, your best bet is to seek the services of an experienced US immigration lawyer.