Immigration issues will be crucial in the next elections

José López Zamorano | La Red Hispana 
Photo Credit: Mikhail Nilov / Pexels

For the first time in many election cycles, immigration is emerging as the main issue of concern in the minds of voters.

Polls in the first two stages of the 2024 electoral political calendar, the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary elections confirmed that the economy and jobs were displaced to second place.

It is clear that the bombardment of television images with crowds of migrants crossing the Rio Grande, or camping in urban neighborhoods of cities like New York, are fueling the perception among many voters that the border is out of control and that Joe Biden’s policies are not working.

The bad news is that the winner of the primaries is Donald Trump, who proposes solving the immigration problem with extreme measures, such as sealing the border with Mexico; inefficient, such as the construction of the wall; and inhumane, by building concentration camps to carry out mass deportations.

Late last year, when Mexico relaxed its immigration containment policies on the southern border, the situation worsened. In December, more than 300,000 “encounters” with undocumented immigrants were recorded, the highest number in history.

A visit to Mexico by the Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, and of National Security, Alejandro Mayorkas, was necessary to reestablish the immigration commitments of the Mexican government. It is evident that the White House understands that mitigating border chaos is a matter of political survival.

And this same week, a bipartisan delegation of House of Representatives legislators led by the chairman of the foreign affairs committee, Texas Republican Michael McCaul, also traveled to Mexico. Even before arriving in Mexican territory, the legislator recognized what is becoming increasingly obvious:

“We cannot implement Trump’s policies that had worked so well without Mexico’s cooperation,” he admitted.

The visits by White House officials and congressional representatives illustrate that both the executive and legislative levels recognize the importance of Mexico’s immigration policies as one of the keys to stabilizing the flow of undocumented immigrants to the border, especially during an election year.

Unfortunately, within the political debate in the United States, some of the proposals that the Mexican government has made to resolve the immigration problem in the long term are ignored, such as making greater substantive investments in the countries that send migrants to attack the root causes that generate migrant caravans heading north.

What the United States Congress is debating, with various nuances, is reestablishing Title 42, limiting asylums, restricting humanitarian parole processes, and eliminating protections for migrant children.

With this myopic vision from Congress, the need to attack the structural causes that push migrants to emigrate to the north is not distinguished, nor the reality that Mexico cannot accept each and every one of the people who arrive at the border with the United States.

Thus a new political cycle will be fulfilled, where migrants will once again be the cannon fodder of both parties and the need for the United States to approve an immigration policy that provides the economy with the labor it needs will be delayed – along with them honoring the principle of being a country that opens its arms to the vulnerable and the persecuted.