Biden's response to the migration of the southern border of the United States

The White House tries to have a much less confrontational and racist stance towards migrants, but this has increased asylum seekers on the southern border

Joe biden

During the campaign, the Democratic Latino community had forced and demanded then-candidate Biden to take a much more migrant-friendly stance. Photo: Reuters

LatinAmerican Post | Santiago Gómez Hernández

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Leer en español: Así responde Biden ante la migración de la frontera sur de Estados Unidos

The arrival at the White House meant relief and hope for several undocumented migrants within the United States and for the thousands of Central Americans who dream of emigrating to the northern country. During the campaign, the Democratic Latino community had forced and demanded then-candidate Biden to take a much more migrant-friendly stance.

However, this intention and this new speech from Washington was understood as an opportune moment for migrants. According to figures from US Customs and Border Protection, during the change of administration, there was a 28% increase in arrests, 61% in the arrival of unaccompanied minors, and 163.9% in families. For now, Biden's strategy has been to return those traveling with their parents and has welcomed about 14,000 children who arrived alone. 9,500 are under the protection of the Department of Health and 4,500 by Customs and Protection.

Mexico continues to be the main ally of the United States.

As Donald Trump did, Biden finds Andrés Manuel López Obrador the main ally to be able to contain this increase in asylum applications. Coincidentally (as we want to see) the same day that the United States makes official the shipment of vaccines to Mexico, the Aztec country closes its borders for public health reasons related to the coronavirus. This, despite the fact that we have been in a pandemic for more than a year and Mexico, had not yet taken this type of measure.

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AMLO and Biden are already working on short-term measures. According to both governments, the United States will invest 4,000 million dollars in development projects in the northern triangle (El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala). However, these measures are unlikely to achieve immediate results and this will be accompanied by a harsher migration from Mexico. López Obrador will have to play as a bad cop to leave the role of good cop to Biden, something similar to the role that Turkey and the European Union play with Syrian migrants.

This role, the Mexican president already knows. Since the administration of Donald Trump, AMLO was a fundamental piece in US immigration policy. However, now, with a Democratic president, he can ask for and demand greater benefits, both in the reception of asylum seekers and in aid for development in Mexico and Central America.

Migration: Biden, very similar to Trump in practice

So far, the Biden administration has held a different presidency on international politics compared to its predecessor. Bombings in the Middle East and a tough stance on Putin are a sign of a government similar to Obama's and different from Trump's.

However, in terms of migration, the changes are theoretical and discursive, but very slight in practice. It is true that the new president stopped the construction of the wall, ordered the reunification of migrant children, and asked to review the immigration programs canceled by Trump. But, deportations continue and asylum seekers still do not have a clear and fast route. The response has been "We are not telling you not to come. We are telling you not to come now," as Alejandro Mayorkas, the United States Secretary of Homeland Security, declared.

But, many of the migrants cannot afford to wait for Biden and his administration to find the right moment for this (if it comes at all). Obviously, the Democrats did not expect the increase in arrests and migrants on the southern border so soon, but he is president and will have to give it a fast, timely, adequate handling and in accordance with his campaign promises.