On Jan. 8, President Biden visited El Paso, Texas, en route to the North American summit in Mexico City. The visit came days after Biden announced new measures to stem the influx of migrants seeking asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Migration numbers have skyrocketed from hundreds to thousands per day. Arrests at the border topped 2.3 million at the end of the federal government’s fiscal year on Sept. 30, a record high.
Biden’s new measure would keep out people from the countries that currently have the most immigrants: Haiti, Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua.
The United States will deny asylum to immigrants who do not first seek asylum at a U.S. embassy or consulate office in their home country. It will begin admitting 30,000 people a month from the four countries for up to two years, which could result in the legal entry of as many as 360,000 people.
The visit to El Paso gave Biden a chance to see first-hand the stress that dealing with these crowds puts on border cities. He was briefed on shelters that were 100 percent migrants, and the scramble for food, clothing and medical care to care for them.
Biden also had a chance to speak with Customs and Border Protection and Border Patrol agents, whose near-impossible task of processing immigrants and asylum seekers at the border.
While the latest measures could reduce the flow of the thousands of migrants who show up at the southern border, they won’t solve our nation’s immigration problems — they’re akin to putting a Band-Aid on a ripping wound. The real solution is effective immigration law, which Congress has refused to do. This has to be a bipartisan issue where lawmakers genuinely want to pass laws that provide immigrants with a legal path to America and give those people the chance to live out the American dream that most of our ancestors aspired to.
Those who leave their country, travel through dangerous areas, and are willing to sleep on the ground in Mexican border cities like Juárez while they wait for their immigration hearing appointments are, in my opinion, the kind of ambitious people who can help solve the labor shortage. United States and reduce the pressure on the aging population of the United States.
Lawmakers, however, have been reluctant to work together on immigration. The issue, and the border itself, has become a political arena for politicians whose primary concern is addressing their own political needs rather than putting the national interest first.
More manpower and technology need to be provided to Customs and Border Protection and Border Patrol agents at the border to better help them do their jobs. More immigration judges and court staff are needed to quickly adjudicate immigration cases.
Smart moves are needed, such as the recent reopening of visa and consular services in Cuba to process visa and asylum applications.
Yes, politicians need to go to the border to see immigration in person. They also need to understand how the border is a symbiotic zone where the best resources of Mexico and the United States come together to produce our consumer electronics, cars, and medical devices.
Politicians should not be in a group photo by blaming another politician for causing a border crisis in just two years. That’s what Texas Gov. Greg Abbott did when he met with Biden at the El Paso airport, with a salacious letter full of vitriol.
Immigration has been an issue long before these two politicians were elected. If anything, the two officials should have met to meaningfully discuss cooperation on border issues, including immigration.
Homeless immigrants at the border are not pawns on the chessboard because they are being treated. They are people of flesh and blood. But as Charles Dudley Warner famously said, “Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.” So I think we’ll continue to have immigrant women and Children sleep on sidewalks in winter while immigration issues are used as leverage in political campaigns and fundraising.
I guess we’ll continue to think, absurdly, that American factory and service jobs are going unfilled due to labor shortages. Sadly, if we don’t accept the world’s best minds to come to work in America and become Americans, we will continue to jeopardize America’s economic health and competitiveness.
As citizens, we need to ask our representatives in Washington, D.C. to cut off the politics and address this issue directly. This is the only way for change to happen.
Jerry Pacheco is executive director of the International Business Accelerator, a nonprofit trade consulting program of the New Mexico Network of Small Business Development Centers. He can be reached at 575-589-2200 or email@example.com.