(NewsNation) — Uvalde, Texas Mayor Don McLaughlin said there are “no solutions” in President Joe Biden’s program to accept up to 30,000 migrants per month from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela.
“I don’t think there’s any solutions in his speech because 30,000 will be 50,000, and they won’t enforce it. They don’t have the personnel because every Border Patrol agent we have along the border right now is in processing; they’re not even doing their job,” McLaughlin said. Our border is wide open, and they cross at will.”
This comes after Biden announced Thursday that people from the four countries will be expelled to Mexico if they enter the U.S. illegally, effective immediately. At the same time, he offered humanitarian parole for up to 30,000 people a month from those four countries if they apply online, pay for their airfare and find a financial sponsor.
“Do not just show up at the border,” Biden said Thursday. “Stay where you are and apply legally from there.”
The vast majority of Cubans reach the U.S. by flying to Nicaragua as tourists and make their way to the U.S. border with Mexico.
The new rules expand on an existing effort to stop Venezuelans attempting to enter the U.S., which began in October and led to a dramatic drop in Venezuelans coming to the southern border. Together, they represent a major change to immigration rules that will stand even if the Supreme Court ends a Trump-era public health law that allows U.S. authorities to turn away asylum-seekers.
Biden made the announcement just days before a planned visit to El Paso, Texas, on Sunday for his first trip to the southern border as president. From there, he will travel to Mexico City to meet with North American leaders on Monday and Tuesday.
However, Biden’s planned border visit has been met with some criticism.
“He’s gonna go to El Paso, Texas, they’re going to have a real secure airplane and he’s gonna come out with the news media he chooses to go with, and they’re going to come out and say look how secure the border is — we’ve got this situation under control,” McLaughlin said. “We’re going to be dealing with the same thing every day of migrants crossing the border.
“My simple question is, why haven’t you done those things in the last two years?” Oklahoma Sen. James Lankford asked in a video posted on his Twitter account Thursday. “We’ve seen record numbers of people illegally crossing the southern border. I have said now for two years, the president has authorities he’s choosing not to use.”
At the U.S.-Mexico border, migrants have been denied a chance to seek asylum 2.5 million times since March 2020 under Title 42 restrictions, introduced as an emergency health measure by former President Donald Trump to prevent the spread of COVID-19. But there always has been criticism that the restrictions were used as a pretext by the Republicans to seal off the border.
Biden moved to end the Title 42 restrictions, and Republicans sued to keep them. The U.S. Supreme Court has kept the rules in place for now. White House officials say they still believe the restrictions should end, but they maintain they can continue to turn away migrants under immigration law.
On Friday, spokesperson Boris Cheshirkov of UNHCR, the U.N. refugee agency, welcomed the expansion of safe and regular pathways that will now be available to an “unprecedented number” of people trying to enter the United States, but said the agency also wants more details about how the new process will be implemented.
“These are quite significant and multifaceted announcements,” he told reporters in Geneva at a regular U.N. briefing. “We’re analyzing what has been announced and especially the impact that these measures may have — including on the situation and the thousands of people that are already on the move.”
Cheshirkov reiterated the U.N. agency’s long-running concerns about the use of Title 42 because of the risk that many people may get sent back to Mexico “without considerations of the dangers that they fled and the risks and hardships that many of them may then face.”
“What we’re reiterating is that this is not in line with the refugee law standards,” he added. “Seeking asylum is a fundamental human right.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report