Immigration conundrum – U.S.-Mexico border

Why in news?

The nearly two-month-old U.S. government under President Joe Biden is facing the highest number of migrants reaching its border with Mexico in 20 years.

What is the extent of the crisis?

There is an unprecedented surge of unaccompanied minors at the U.S.- Mexico border in few weeks.

The number of unaccompanied teens and children taken into U.S. custody along the border surged in few weeks to nearly 30,000 in February 2021.

Migrant adults and families continue to be sent back to Mexico when they are caught.

Unaccompanied children are being processed, and they get help resettling with U.S. relatives.

Efforts are also stepped up to have children apply for asylum from their homes in Central America instead of making the dangerous journey to the

U.S. border.

Why now?

The former President Donald Trump adopted a “zero tolerance” policy toward undocumented immigrants.

Trump-era emergency rule gave border agents the authority to summarily turn away most migrants other than unaccompanied minors.

It denied them the right to have their asylum claims heard.

In a sense, the mounting crisis now is related to a sweeping immigration reform proposal unveiled by Mr. Biden’s administration a month ago.

The migrants are thus apparently encouraged to try to enter the U.S. by Biden’s rejection of Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy.

What are the other plans under way?

There are smaller Bills that the Democrat-controlled Congress could pass with less resistance.

These include measures to quicken the process for grant of legal status to agriculture workers and “Dreamers”, or undocumented immigrants who entered the U.S. as children.

There are also plans under way to redress the ills of the legal migration system.

Many obstacles to this were erected by the Trump White House.

These include a controversial rule to raise mandatory minimum pay for foreign workers on the H-1B visa for skilled immigrants that is largely granted to Indian nationals.

Mr. Biden’s broader, omnibus immigration legislation proposal includes an eight-year pathway to citizenship for the nearly 11 million undocumented immigrants.

It also proposes the use of hi-tech systems for border patrol enforcement.

[It is suggested that the Biden administration’s proposed immigration bill could potentially increase annual ‘green card’ or permanent residency numbers by 35%.]

What challenge does the immigration crisis pose?

Undoing some of the damaging policies implemented by his predecessor is getting to be a real challenge for Biden and his administration.

The immigration crisis now has pushed the need for a comprehensive reform. The numbers so far is already wearing federal resources thin.

The issue has made a call to choose between –

the American Dream with an inclusive vision of economic growth premised on embracing diversity and skilled migration

the Trumpian ‘America First’ battle cry for nativist populism What Mr. Biden does in the months to come becomes truly significant.

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