President Joe Biden announced a series of efforts his administration will take to improve border security and streamline the process for immigrants to enter the country legally. He also announced that he will visit El Paso, Texas, on Sunday for his first trip to the southern border as president.
Speaking from the White House on Tuesday, Biden described new actions his administration has taken, including a new phone app where asylum seekers can apply for entry into the United States.
Biden said the phone app, called CBP One, allows asylum seekers to submit their asylum applications to enter the United States “without crossing the border unlawfully” and an asylum officer can then determine if applicants qualify to enter the country.
The president also described a parole program that his administration began in October with the Mexican government and which he now plans to expand to include other countries. The parole program allows people to enter the United States with the support of a lawful sponsor residing within the country. In addition to finding a sponsor within the United States, the program entails submitting the parole applicants to a variety of background checks while they remain outside the country. Under this parole program, Biden said the United States will allow up to 30,000 people per month from Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua, and Haiti to enter the country and work for up to two years.
“If their application is denied, or they attempt to cross into the United States unlawfully, they’ll be returned back to Mexico and will not be eligible for this program after that,” Biden said. “So they, if they, if they apply and they do it properly, fine. If they don’t apply and they try to come through, they’re not going to have an opportunity to deal with the program.”
Biden said the parole program is “orderly, it’s safe and humane, and it works.” Since implementing this program, Biden said the number of Venezuelans that U.S. border officials have recorded trying to enter the United States illegally has dropped from about 1,100 per day to about 250 on average. Biden said his administration will now expand the program to Cuba, Nicaragua, and Haiti.
“We anticipate this action’s going to substantially reduce the number of [people] attempting to get across our southern border without going through a legal process,” Biden said.
Biden Criticizes Republicans for Border Inaction
Biden began his remarks on Thursday by acknowledging that the new programs his administration is taking “aren’t going to fix our entire immigration system, but they can help us a good deal in better managing what is a difficult challenge.”
Biden then described how he sent draft legislation to congress to overhaul the U.S. immigration system, during his early days in office, but the legislation did not pass.
“Congressional Republicans have refused to consider my comprehensive plan,” Biden said. “And they rejected my recent request for an additional $3.5 billion to secure the border and funds for 2,000 new asylum personnel—asylum officers and personnel, and 100 new immigration judges— so people don’t have to wait years to get their claims adjudicated, which they have a right to make a claim legally.”
In his first days in office, Biden supported a bill called the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021. The bill includes an eight-year pathway to citizenship for the estimated 11 million people living in the United States illegally. Many Republicans and conservatives opposed the bill in 2021 for supporting a pathway to citizenship without any additional spending for border security. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) questioned the logic of granting amnesty through a pathway to citizenship for people illegally in the country while the United States is concurrently dealing with a heightened flow of illegal immigrants into the country.
Biden said Republican lawmakers recently met with Democrat lawmakers to again consider new immigration reforms, but said the Republican side rejected the new negotiations just as they rejected his 2021 immigration proposal.
“It’s clear that immigration is a political issue and extreme Republicans are always going to run on it,” Biden said in his Thursday remarks.