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President Biden and his Mexican and Canadian counterparts kicked off a leaders summit where migration will be a key issue. The talks come after Biden made his first visit to the southern border since taking office. Sunday, he joined border patrol agents at the ports of entry in El Paso, Texas, and met with migrant advocates and local officials. White House Correspondent Laura Barrón-López reports.
Today, President Biden and his Mexican and Canadian counterparts kicked off a summit where migration will be a key issue.
President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador greeted President Biden in Mexico City this evening ahead of that bilateral meeting. The talks come after President Biden made his first visit to the Southern border since taking office. Yesterday, he joined Border Patrol agents in El Paso, Texas, and met with migrant advocates and local officials.
Our White House correspondent Laura Barrón-López is following all of this and joins me here.
Good to see you.
Good to be with you.
So, obviously, that meeting between President Biden and President Lopez Obrador, we know migration and immigration is going to be a key issue. What else is on the agenda? And what is the White House hoping to get out of these meetings?
So, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan today said that the three biggest issues are going to be about cracking down on fentanyl trafficking, trade, supply chains.
And then that third one is migration and migration enforcement. And, recently, Mexico said that they would take some 30,000 migrants per month from Haiti, Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela. And a part of the discussions today, Jake Sullivan said, could be that they might be willing to take even more than that 30,000 per month.
So, we know that advocate community, the nonprofits, church groups on the ground, they play a key role in terms of being on the front lines, receiving a lot of those migrant populations. President Biden met with some of them.
What do we know about those conversations and what they want from the White House?
So, I spoke to multiple immigrant advocates who met with Biden yesterday.
And they said that they're concerned that this new parole program makes it so migrants are going to have to stay in their country and apply for asylum from there, and that migrants can't afford to wait. I spoke to Ruben Garcia, the director of the Annunciation House, today, and — who helps migrants on both sides of the border.
And he had this to say about the sheer number of Venezuelans coming to the border.
Ruben Garcia, Director, Annunciation House:
You know, I have been doing this for 45 years.
This is the first time that I have seen as many individuals from one country that have no or very, very few sponsors to receive them. We cannot simply dig a hole and stick our head in that hole and think that it's going to go away. We're going to see more individuals fleeing their country, and I mean fleeing their country.
And so Ruben Garcia, in addition to Catholic Bishop Mark Seitz, who I also spoke to, said that their message to the president, as well as White House aides, yesterday was that they're hoping that the White House could — the administration could provide a 48-hour window, where those undocumented Venezuelans and a number of other migrants who are, they said, stuck in El Paso could turning themselves into authorities, and not be — get — be reassured that they would not then be deported to Mexico or to another country.
But the president and his aides told them yesterday that their hands are tied by the courts.
So these groups are clearly feeling very, very taxed.
We also know those border front-line officials, they are severely taxed, right, the folks who are responsible for apprehending folks, for processing them, for enforcing the border. What do they want to see from the White House right now?
So, the law enforcement source that I spoke to who works closely with Border Patrol officers said that they're stretched insanely thin right now, it's — quote — "like controlled chaos," and that, ultimately, they need more resources, that they're having to do humanitarian work that they aren't trained for.
And so they, as well as immigrant advocates, ultimately say that the only thing that is going to fix this long term is going to be a comprehensive immigration bill.
And tell me about that. How likely are we to see comprehensive immigration reform from Congress?
So — but, in short, Amna, we're very unlikely to see it.
There was a bipartisan group of senators in El Paso today. So there might be some appetite among the Senate. In the House, there could very well be one Republican in Texas, Tony Gonzales, who had this to say about immigration:
Rep. Tony Gonzales (R-TX):
If these — this insurgency caucus decides to put anti-immigrant legislation on the floor and masquerade it as border security policy, that's not going to fly.
Margaret Brennan, "Face the Nation": OK.
Rep. Tony Gonzales:
And I will do everything in my power to make sure that type of legislation fails on the floor.
So, Tony Gonzales could very well be one House Republican that the White House could work with.
But, ultimately, there's no indication that House Republicans are going to go along with Senate Republicans and work with the White House on a big deal.
Certainly a topic I know you will be tracking, along with many, many others.
Our White House correspondent, Laura Barrón-López, good to see you.
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Laura Barrón-López is the White House Correspondent for the PBS NewsHour, where she covers the Biden administration for the nightly news broadcast. She is also a CNN political analyst.
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