Vice President Kamala Harris has big goals for improving conditions in Central America to help slow migration from the region toward the United States.
Driving the news: Senior administration officials unveiled five sweeping goals during a call on Wednesday: Bettering economic prospects; rooting out corruption; promoting human rights, labor rights, and a free press; preventing gang violence; and combating sexual, gender-based and domestic violence.
Unaccompanied migrant children detained in the U.S. Fort Bliss Army base in Texas live in poor mental and physical conditions, according to a whistleblower complaint submitted to Congress and government watchdogs on Wednesday.
Why it matters: The complaint corroborates reports of migrant children's distress in the camps overseen by the Biden administration. The president has faced criticism for his response to the record surge in unaccompanied minors illegally crossing the southern border.
President Biden will meet with 11 Democratic members of Congress at the White House Thursday to discuss the next steps for providing a pathway to citizenship for undocumented migrants brought to the U.S. as children, a White House official told Axios.
Why it matters: Congressional Democrats plan to try to pass pathways to citizenship for so-called Dreamers, TPS holders and undocumented essential workers in the upcoming reconciliation package. Biden also has consistently called on Congress to pass legislation to protect Dreamers.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) on Wednesday barred people from providing ground transportation to migrants detained by Customs Border Patrol for illegally crossing the border — a move that gives the state's Department of Public Safety (DPS) authority to stop and reroute "any vehicle upon reasonable suspicion" of violating the order.
Why it matters: Abbott cites the recent surge in COVID-19 cases as the basis for the order, though the governor has refused to mandate masks in the state. The move comes amid record crossings at the southern border.
President Biden is building his own kind of border wall.
Why it matters: By maintaining a Trump-era policy allowing border agents to kick asylum seekers back to Mexico — and now allowing some migrant families to face detention and fast-track deportations — a Democrat who promised a more humane immigration approach is taking some tough stances.
About 50,000 migrants who crossed the southern border illegally have now been released in the United States without a court date. Although they are told to report to an Immigration and Customs Enforcement office instead, just 13% have shown up so far, Axios has learned.
Why it matters: The sizable numbers are a sign of just how overwhelmed some sectors of the U.S.-Mexico border continue to be: A single stretch covering the Rio Grande Valley had 20,000 apprehensions in a week. The figures also show the shortcomings of recent emergency decisions to release migrants.
The combination of high death rates during the COVID-19 pandemic, immigration restrictions and persistently low birth rates means the U.S. population might have shrunk in 2020, according to a new piece in the Wall Street Journal.
Why it matters: Until proven otherwise, demography is destiny for countries — and stubbornly low rates of population growth will present major economic and political challenges for the U.S. if they can't be reversed.
Senate Democrats are considering including about $10 billion in their $3.5-trillion budget reconciliation package for border security — focused on infrastructure at legal entry points, two sources familiar with their plans tell Axios.
Why it matters: Democrats already planned to include roughly $120 billion for pathways to citizenship for Dreamers, Temporary Protected Status holders and undocumented essential workers. The sources said there will be even more to address immigration — with more direct infrastructure ties.
At least a third of migrant families separated at the border during the Trump administration and reunited in the U.S. so far under President Biden were homeless initially, three people familiar with estimates discussed by advocates and government officials told Axios.
Why it matters: As the number of reunions grows, such homelessness rates have the potential to significantly strain non-governmental organizations already plagued by limited resources.
Border officials are encountering migrants from more distant countries, rather than just Mexico or the Northern Triangle, according to the latest public figures from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency.
Why it matters: These longer journeys to the U.S.-Mexico border underscore the desperate situation many migrants face in their home countries, as well as the multi-dimensional diplomatic, economic and moral challenge the United States faces trying to control their flow north.