STORY: U.S. President Joe Biden made his first trip to the border with Mexico since taking office, dropping by El Paso, Texas, on Sunday in what was meant to be a show of serious concern about immigration issues ahead of a re-election campaign.
El Paso has seen a big influx of migrants in recent months.
The Democratic mayor declared a state of emergency last month, citing hundreds of migrants' sleeping on the streets in cold temperatures and thousands being apprehended every day.
On Sunday Biden spoke with customs and border protection officers at the busy Bridge of Americas border crossing, toured a part of the border barrier with Mexico alongside border agents, and stopped at a migrant support center.
Biden’s visit was not expected to result in new policies, only to show he was taking the issue seriously and strengthen his relationship with border control agents.
Last Thursday he announced a plan to expand those nationalities that could be sent back at the border to include Cuban, Nicaraguan and Haitian migrants.
But he also opened pathways for them to enter legally – allowing up to 30,000 people from those countries plus Venezuela to enter by air each month
“This new process is orderly, it's safe and it’s humane and it works. Since we created the new program the number of Venezuelans trying to enter America without going through a legal process has dropped dramatically, from about 1,100 per day, to less than 250 per day.”
Biden sent Congress an immigration reform plan on his first day in office two years ago.
But that hasn’t gone far due to opposition from Republicans, who also blocked his request for $3.5 billion to beef up border enforcement.
Republicans are pushing their own plans after the midterms when they secured a narrow majority win in the House.
Texas' Republican Governor, Greg Abbott, met Biden in El Paso and handed him a letter outlining five steps to address the border crisis - including detaining the millions of people in the United States illegally.
Abbott accuses Biden of failing to enforce immigration laws.
U.S. border officials apprehended a record 2.2 million migrants at the border with Mexico in the 2022 fiscal year that ended in September, though that number includes individuals who tried to cross multiple times.
After the El Paso visit, Biden flew south to Mexico City, where he was met by Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.
The two begin a three-day summit on Monday with Canadian leader Justin Trudeau on energy, economic cooperation, immigration and drug trafficking, especially fentanyl.