A pathway to citizenship or other legalization for illegal immigrants already in the U.S. remains a priority for the Biden administration and many Democrats, even amid a record-breaking crisis at the southern border.
The issue was raised during a crucial U.S.-Mexico meeting this week in Mexico City, where Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas met with President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.
During that broad discussion on the migrant crisis, the countries said they discussed the “benefits” of “regularizing” illegal immigrants who have been living in the United States for years, including those protected by the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) – an executive order signed by President Barack Obama, which shielded some illegal immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as minors.
“The delegations also discussed the benefits of regularizing the situation of Hispanic migrants who have been undocumented for several years and the DACA beneficiaries, who are a vital part of the US economy and society,” the joint statement said, adding that the delegations will meet again in January.
The inclusion of the statement, during a month in which there have been record numbers of encounters at the southern border, drew immediate anger from House Republicans.
At a time when America is experiencing the worst border crisis in our nation’s history, it is unconscionable to hear the Biden administration’s announcement that Secretaries Mayorkas and Blinken discussed with the President of Mexico amnesty for illegal immigrants,” House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., said. “The United States must focus on policies that deter – not attract – people attempting to come here illegally, and the smugglers who profit from the catastrophe at our border.”
“This development further demonstrates the administration has no real intention of solving the humanitarian disaster and immediate national security crisis their policies have created. President Biden needs to stop vacationing and take immediate steps to stop the flow of illegal immigration into our country. Our nation’s security and sovereignty depend upon it, and the American people demand it,” he said.
But the Biden administration has made no secret of its desire to grant legal status to millions of illegal immigrants. On Day One in office, the administration announced a sweeping immigration reform bill that included an eight-year path to citizenship for illegal immigrants.
It also included immediate green cards for llegal immigrant farmworkers, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) recipients and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients.
Since then, even with the border crisis raging for nearly three years, the Biden administration has repeatedly touted that bill as an example of legislation it would like to see Congress pass to fix what it says is a “broken” immigration system.
However, the population of illegal immigrants has exploded under the Biden administration. An Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) report issued on Friday said the number of illegal immigrants just on the non-detained docket had soared to over 6 million in FY 23 from 3.7 million in FY 21.
It means the prospect of any form of amnesty for Republicans will likely be less palatable now than it was in 2021.
Many Democrats have also shared the administration’s goals of passing a pathway to citizenship for those who have entered the country illegally.
Democrats in both the House and the Senate have proposed amnesties this year. Most recently, Senate Democrats said any changes to the asylum system demanded by Republicans as part of any supplemental funding agreement must be combined with legalization for illegal immigrants.
“Any proposal considering permanent changes to our asylum and immigration system needs to include a clear path to legalization for long-standing undocumented immigrants,” the lawmakers said.
“We remain committed to working in good faith to modernize our outdated immigration system on a bipartisan basis and through a deliberative process,” they added. “We cannot truly secure our border and help American communities without increasing lawful pathways for migration and legalizing long-time undocumented immigrants who put food on our tables, care for our elderly, and form the fabric of our communities.”
The calls come as the U.S. continues to grapple with a historic migrant crisis at the border. Fox News reported Saturday that there have been 286,000 migrant encounters at the southern border in December so far, setting a new record for monthly encounters. That’s on top of the record-setting 2.4 million migrant encounters in FY 2023 as a whole.
Fox News’ Griff Jenkins contributed to this report.
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