The upswing in the arrival of unaccompanied migrant children and migrants to the US-Mexico border has exposed an obvious dilemma for the Biden administration: How to send the message that there is now a more dignified and humane immigration policy, without having to unleash a wave of impoverished Central American migrants risking their lives to make the dangerous journey from their countries?
It is true that criminal gangs dedicated to the illegal smuggling of people take advantage and turned the suffering and hope of migrants into lucrative profits.
According to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the trend of new arrivals of Central American migrants is shaping up to reach the highest number of people apprehended at the US-Mexico border in more than two decades.
The White House coordinator for the southern border, Roberta Jacobson, is right when she argues that applying the most cruel immigration policy possible – as the Trump administration did with its policy of expelling, separating or caging minors – should not be the only means to send the message that the border is not open if people seek to enter now irregularly.
Migration activists told me, however, that the Biden administration can do several things immediately: do not let minors be in custody more than 72, and provide them with dignified accommodation, something that begins by involving the Federal Administration Emergency Management (FEMA).
But it must also reduce bureaucratic obstacles and allocate more resources for the expedited processing of minors, in such a way as to guarantee the access of children and their families to a lawyer and to accelerate the review of criminal records of families who can be welcomed in the United States.
Apparently alarmed by the situation, a dozen Republican lawmakers, led by their House leader Kevin McCarthy, visited the Texas border and blamed the Biden administration for the situation. I don’t remember any of those ‘sensitive’ legislators denouncing the cruel policy of separation and caging of minors of the Trump era.
Now the best way that Democrats and Republicans can show that they support a lasting and long-term solution to an orderly, safe and legal immigration policy is to show the political will to negotiate urgent, dignified and humane legislation.
Otherwise, the real crisis will continue to lurk around the corner.