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Amid surging migrant problem in America & Europe, EU’s migration ministers meet in Brussels

September 29, 2023 3:14 PM IST

Migrants waded across the border river between the U.S. and Mexico on September 28 using blankets to help each-other over the razor wire. They were later intercepted by border officials. With groups of migrants as large as 2,000 attempting to cross into the U.S., Border Patrol are actively engaged in trying to manage the influx, officials report.

Last week, Texas officials signed an emergency declaration to seek funding for additional services. The dramatic surge of migrants along the U.S. southern border marks a turning point after illegal migration, which has plummeted in recent months.

Meanwhile, Billionaire Elon Musk waded into the U.S. immigration debate, paying a visit to the Texas border with Mexico to meet with local politicians and law enforcement and obtain what he called an “unfiltered” view of the situation.

Musk’s visit came as thousands of migrants have ventured to northern Mexico in recent days on freight trains and buses, then crossed the U.S. border into Texas, Arizona and California in an upswing in arrivals of people seeking asylum in the United States.

Musk visited Eagle Pass, where throngs of migrants have for several days been wading across the Rio Grande near a railroad bridge in Eagle Pass, undeterred by coils of razor wire placed along the river banks by the Texas National Guard.

Dressed in a black T-shirt, black cowboy hat and aviator-style sunglasses, Musk urged a two-pronged approach to overhauling U.S. immigration laws in a video-selfie posted to the social media platform X, formerly Twitter, which he purchased last April.

In fact, for the past several days large groups of migrants, mostly from Venezuela, have been wading across the Rio Bravo river from the Mexican northern border city of Piedras Negras into Eagle Pass, Texas, undeterred by coils of razor wire laid along the banks.

Migrants were seen crossing, sometimes dozens at a time and at times with small children, navigating strong currents to then make their way through the sharp wire put up by the Texas National Guard. Once on U.S. soil, they waited in the hot sun to turn themselves into U.S. border officials for processing.

Under a new rule put in place in May by the administration of President Joe Biden, migrants who have not sought an appointment to cross at a legal port of entry on a government-run cellphone app known as CBP, can face a higher bar to asylum and potentially swift deportation.

Migrant numbers had initially plummeted after the announcement of the US government, but in recent weeks began rising again as thousands of migrants – many fleeing Venezuela, are making their way through south and central America began arriving at the border.
In the meantime, the European Union’s migration ministers met in Brussels on September 28 to discuss how to handle migrants arriving by sea as Italy and Germany worry over increased immigration, with Berlin launching border controls inside Europe’s zone of open travel.
The ministers will have another go at agreeing a long-stalled mechanism to share out asylum seekers who reach Europe beyond regular border posts, and discuss whether the 27-nation bloc should seek a deal with Egypt to prevent more people from embarking from the southern shores of the Mediterranean.

Critics have said a recent such agreement with Tunisia falls short on human rights but more potential deals are on the cards as Rome sounds alarm over Lampedusa arrivals topping those in 2022 when Italy’s Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni won national elections on an anti-immigration ticket.

Focus is on Germany and whether Interior Minister Nancy Faeser brings a coalition deal to Brussels that would allow Berlin to back the so-called “crisis mechanism” for distributing refugees and migrants in the bloc to avoid overwhelming Italy and other countries of first entry.

(Inputs also from Reuters)

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