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Biden announces new border control measures and legal pathways to some migrants

President Biden speaks to reporters before boarding Air Force One in Kentucky on Wednesday. Biden told reporters he plans to visit the southern U.S. border next week.
Patrick Semansky
President Biden speaks to reporters before boarding Air Force One in Kentucky on Wednesday. Biden told reporters he plans to visit the southern U.S. border next week.

President Biden is planning to give remarks on border security and enforcement on Thursday, an issue that has come to the forefront as large numbers of migrants come to the southern U.S. border, straining the resources of border communities and the immigration system.

The speech comes ahead of meetings Biden will have in Mexico City next week with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador. As part of that trip, Biden has said he plans to make a stop at the southern U.S. border.

The speech is scheduled for 11:15 a.m. EST. Watch it live here:

House Republicans had vowed to make Biden's immigration record one of their top issuesin the new Congress. However, the House has been deadlocked, unable to conduct any business, because of internal Republican dissent over who to elect as speaker.

Biden, who faces the prospect of working with divided government for the rest of his term, has been urging Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform. He put forward a proposal on his first day in office, but Democrats did not invest much political capital to try to advance the plan during Biden's first two years in office.

The White House has been looking for a replacement to Title 42

Biden's administration has relied on a public health measure known as Title 42 to quickly expel most migrants seeking asylum without a hearing. It was put in place by the Trump administration at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, but immigration advocates argued it had been misused.

A federal district judge had ordered the Biden administration to lift the restrictions on Dec. 19. However, the U.S. Supreme Courtagreed in late December to give time for 19 Republican-led states to make a legal case to keep the restrictions in place.

The White House has said it preparing for the eventual end of Title 42 restrictions, but it has not yet unveiled a new plan for dealing with large numbers of people seeking asylum.

In 2021, it launched a pilot program aimed at using asylum officers at the Department of Homeland Security to hear some cases quickly instead of first sending them to overloaded immigration judges.

It also created a program for Venezuelan asylum applicants, limiting it to people applying from outside the United States, rather than at the border.

Biden will travel to Mexico City next week

Republicans have excoriated Biden for failing to visit border communities grappling to provide services to migrants. Next week, the president told reporters he plans to travel to the region "to see what's going on," though he did not provide details about where he would be heading.

Biden is traveling to Mexico City on Monday and Tuesday for the North American Leaders' Summit to talk about issues like climate and the economy — but also fentanyl smuggling and migration.

He has had an uneasy relationship with Mexico's López Obrador, who failed to congratulate Biden for winning the 2020 election for weeks, and boycotted a high-profile regional summit in Los Angeles last year.

"Biden doesn't need to get along with López Obrador. What he needs is López Obrador not to get him in trouble with the border, with migration," said Carlos Bravo Regidor, a political analyst based in Mexico City.

"And I think López Obrador knows it, and that is why he pushes so hard and he is trying to pick a fight," Bravo Regidor told NPR.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Franco Ordoñez is a White House Correspondent for NPR's Washington Desk. Before he came to NPR in 2019, Ordoñez covered the White House for McClatchy. He has also written about diplomatic affairs, foreign policy and immigration, and has been a correspondent in Cuba, Colombia, Mexico and Haiti.
Tamara Keith has been a White House correspondent for NPR since 2014 and co-hosts the NPR Politics Podcast, the top political news podcast in America. Keith has chronicled the Trump administration from day one, putting this unorthodox presidency in context for NPR listeners, from early morning tweets to executive orders and investigations. She covered the final two years of the Obama presidency, and during the 2016 presidential campaign she was assigned to cover Hillary Clinton. In 2018, Keith was elected to serve on the board of the White House Correspondents' Association.