President Biden meets with Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau and Mexican President López Obrador
Last Monday Presidents Biden and López Obrador and Prime Minister Trudeau met at the North American Leaders’ Summit hosted by Mexico where Presidents Biden and López Obrador discussed migration on the heels of the latest agreement made between the U.S. and Mexico, in which Mexico has agreed to accept the return of migrants from Venezuela, Nicaragua, Haiti and Cuba who present themselves at the border or who attempt to cross the border illegally. In return, the U.S. has agreed to create a new legal pathway for up to 30,000 people each month from these countries as long as they have a sponsor lawfully present in the country and pass background checks.
The Mexican President thanked President Biden for being the first U.S. president in a long time to have not built “even one meter of wall” along the U.S.-Mexico border. Mexico has asked the US to provide funds to Central America “to boost development and stem migration from one of the poorest regions in the hemisphere” and to make it easier for migrants to gain employment in the U.S.
Biden administration rolls out additional measures in an attempt to curb migration at the southern border
During last Tuesday’s North American Leaders’ Summit, the administration announced the creation of a virtual platform that will be an online portal where migrants can access information regarding legal pathways they might be eligible for either in the US, Mexico, or Canada. Its purpose is to address the challenges migrants face as they try to understand how they can legally enter the U.S. and how to navigate the difficult process of doing so. The portal is still in the process of being built out and is expected to be completed within a few months.
The United States is also working with Mexico to open new resource centers in physical buildings to be locations where migrants can get information about applying to migrate to the US. One center will be built in Tapachula in southern Mexico where thousands of people pass through as they travel to the U.S.-Mexico border.
A bipartisan group of Senators visit the border in El Paso one day after President Biden’s visit
On the day after President Biden visited the border in El Paso, TX, a group of Senators visited the same area as they continue working to develop bipartisan legislation to address the need for comprehensive border reform. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) led the group which comprised Republican Senators Thom Tillis, Jerry Moran and James Lankford, Independent Senator Kyrsten Sinema, and Democratic Senators Chris Coons, Chris Murphy and Mark Kelly. The group met with city officials, nonprofit organizations and business owners to discuss the impact migration has had in El Paso and also toured a facility that temporarily houses migrants.
"We need an immigration system that is safe, orderly, humane and legal," Cornyn said. "We keep hearing from President Biden and others that we need Congress to step up and provide some answers, and I'm happy that we are."
There continues to be interest in coming up with a bipartisan solution in response to the needs at the southern border. As Senator Murphy noted, “This system isn’t working any longer and it’s time for us to come together, Republicans and Democrats, and find a better path forward.”
U.S. grants TPS to over 2,000 immigrants from Somalia
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas expanded and extended the Temporary Protection Status (TPS) program for Somali immigrants who are already living in the U.S. due to “ongoing conflict and the continuing humanitarian crisis” in Somalia. This program will allow approximately 430 Somalis to renew their work permits and protections from deportation and will open the TPS program to an additional 2,200 Somali immigrants who have been in the U.S. since January 11. The program is extended through September 2024, allowing them to live and work legally in the country through that time, but it does not make program beneficiaries eligible for permanent legal status.
While the Trump administration had sought to end TPS programs, the Biden administration has used the programs broadly, making hundreds of thousands of immigrants from a number of countries eligible for the temporary protection from deportation. The administration also recently extended work permits and protections to over 300,000 individuals from additional countries.