US President Joe Biden’s administration said on October 6 it will add sections to a border wall to stave off record migrant crossings from Mexico, a move immigration experts said was not a reversal of his administration’s anti-wall policy — as it may have appeared.
Biden’s Department of Homeland Security said it needed to waive a number of laws, regulations and other legal requirements to construct barriers in Starr County, Texas. The administration said Thursday’s action did not break Biden’s previous pledge not to build more border wall, because money that was allocated during Trump’s term in 2019 had to be spent now.
Former President Donald Trump, the frontrunner for the 2024 Republican Party nomination, made building border walls a central tenet of his first campaign for president with the rally chant, “Build That Wall.”
Biden’s presidency has been struggling operationally and politically with a record number of migrant crossings at the U.S.-Mexico border during Biden’s term with new highs hit in September.
While Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on October 5 rejected U.S. plans to build new sections of wall. Obrador has urged the United States to support economic development in Latin America to keep migration under control.
Around 11 million immigrants are in the U.S. without legal documentation, says the Washington-based Migration Policy Institute. Many have lived and worked in the country for years or decades.
Thousands of migrants have entered the U.S. from Mexico in recent weeks, as the trek to the U.S. southern border increasingly becomes a global migration route sought by people fleeing violence, economic distress and the impacts of climate change in Latin America, Africa and Asia.
Europe is also struggling with migrants issue. Italy and Spain have voiced concern over irregular immigration increasing this year to their islands, while Greek waters in June were the site of Europe’s deadliest shipwreck in years, one that killed hundreds of migrants. Germany, the preferred destination country for many of the migrants reaching Europe, has introduced border checks, saying they are needed to crack down on smugglers bringing people to its territory.
Other central and eastern EU countries have also put up border controls inside what is normally a zone of open travel, citing the need to crack down on people smugglers and migrants who avoid regular border crossings and arrival procedures.
The top migration official in the EU, home to 450 million people, last week said there had been 250,000 such arrivals so far this year – still far below 2015, when more than 1 million people made it across the sea, overwhelming the bloc.
(Inputs from Reuters)