Biden to Visit Border This Weekend, New Policy Aims to Crackdown on Illegal Crossers
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The White House announced a major shift in immigration policy Thursday that expands legal immigration from four countries while immediately turning away illegal border crossers from those places.
It comes as President Biden prepares to head to El Paso, Texas, on Sunday to assess the border situation firsthand. It's a move Republicans have been calling on him to do since he first took office.
The president will meet with those working on the frontlines of the battle for border security and says he will publicize the resources they ask for.
The new Biden administration policy will allow up to 30,000 migrants per month to legally enter the United States from Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela, and Haiti.
According to Biden, these four countries account for the majority of those traveling through Mexico and entering the U.S. illegally.
"Do not, do not just show up at the border," he said. "Stay where you are and apply legally from there."
"Until Congress passes and funds a comprehensive immigration plan to fix the system completely my administration is going to work to make things better at the border using the tools that we have available to us now," the president said.
Those who qualify for asylum must have a sponsor in the United States, undergo rigorous background checks, apply from outside the U.S., and not attempt to cross illegally.
"This new process is orderly, it's safe, and it's humane and it works," Biden continued.
Matthew Soerens, U.S. director of Church Mobilization for World Relief, says he has mixed feelings about the new policy.
"At World Relief, we're encouraged by new lawful opportunities for people who are fleeing hardship and persecution to enter the United States after being thoroughly vetted, including an expansion of the refugee settlement. We think that's positive," Soerens explained to CBN News. "On the other hand, we're concerned and troubled by new restrictions on asylum for people who under U.S. law have a right to seek asylum at the U.S. Mexico border."
"Some of what President Biden is proposing is actually very troubling because there will be people who don't qualify for this new program who nevertheless are fleeing persecution and ought to have the right to seek asylum. That doesn't mean they get to stay necessarily, but they have the right to due process under U.S. law and we shouldn't be rolling back those protections," he continued.
According to a 2022 Lifeway Research study, there is widespread evangelical support for comprehensive immigration reform.
"Four to five evangelicals say they want Congress to act on a bipartisan basis to allow Dreamers to pursue citizenship, to ensure that we have more secure borders, and also to address the workforce issues, especially in agriculture, that are driving up food costs," explained Soerens.
He agrees with the president that the solution to the broken system is a bipartisan bill to address urgent immigration issues.
"With the current Congress, there's no congressional action that's going to turn into a law that isn't bipartisan," the World Relief director noted. "We need both sides to come together."
"There are lots of things that need to change. But some of the most urgent are -- we do need a bunch of new resources at the border both to ensure that our government apprehends individuals seeking to enter the country unlawfully which it has not consistently been able to do in the last few years. But also to adjudicate asylum requests people who are showing up at the border, not running away from the Border Patrol, but seeking the asylum under the terms of U.S. law," Soerens said.
"Right now, we just have none. We're so far from having the capacity to actually adjudicate those cases that people are waiting on average more than four years for a decision," he added.
Biden said he's willing to sit down with anyone who in good faith wants to find a solution to fix the broken immigration system, and he wants to see immigration once again become a bipartisan issue.
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