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Joe Biden warns he can’t just ‘throw a switch’ at the southern border

Joe Biden warns he can’t just ‘throw a switch’ at the southern border to restore pre-Trump rules for processing immigrants

  • President-elect Joe Biden said Monday that he couldn’t just ‘throw a switch’ at the southern border and reverse President Donald Trump’s immigration policies 
  • In January 2019, the Trump administration introduced the ‘wait in Mexico’ policy that makes asylum seekers stay in Mexico while their U.S. claims are processed 
  • Biden called this a ‘humanitarian disaster that the Trump administration has systematically created on our southern border’ during his Monday remarks 
  • He blasted the Trump administration for eroding the immigration system’s capacity and said it would take time to rebuild 

President-elect Joe Biden said Monday that he couldn’t just ‘throw a switch’ at the southern border to restore the asylum rules in place before President Donald Trump took office. 

‘We will have to have a process to ensure everyone’s health and safety, including the safety of asylum seekers hoping for a new start in the United States free from violence and persecution,’ Biden told reporters at Wilmington’s Queen theater.  

The president-elect gave an update on the transition and criticized the Trump administration for not fully playing ball. 

President-elect Joe Biden said he wasn’t able to just ‘throw a switch’ and roll back President Donald Trump’s immigration policy, which forced thousands of migrants to ‘wait in Mexico’ while they waited for their asylum claims with the U.S. to be processed 

United States Border Patrol officers are seen returning a group of migrants back to the Mexican side of the border in July 2019. Six months prior, the Trump administration had launched a new 'wait in Mexico' policy while processing asylum cases

United States Border Patrol officers are seen returning a group of migrants back to the Mexican side of the border in July 2019. Six months prior, the Trump administration had launched a new ‘wait in Mexico’ policy while processing asylum cases 

Trump, of course, has yet to concede the election to Biden and, as of Monday, was still tweeting about ‘election fraud.’ 

Trump won the White House, in part, because he promised to take a hardline approach on immigration, boasting that he would build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico and make Mexico pay for it. 

While just some new border wall was constructed during Trump’s nearly four years in office, his administration was able to make claiming asylum in the U.S. more difficult. 

In January 2019, the Trump administration introduced the ‘wait in Mexico’ policy that makes asylum seekers – mainly from central American countries – wait in Mexico while their asylum claim goes through a back-logged U.S. immigration court. 

As of March 2020, when the Supreme Court allowed for the policy to continue as it was being challenged in court, more than 60,000 asylum-seekers had been forced to wait in some of Mexico’s most dangerous cities.   

Biden said he had spoken with former Federal Emergency Management Agency head Craig Fugate during an earlier briefing and he had talked to Department of Homeland Security experts as well. 

‘We were briefed on the steps needed to clean up the humanitarian disaster that the Trump administration has systematically created on our southern border,’ Biden said. ‘We will institute a humane and orderly response.’  

‘That means rebuilding the capacity we need to safely and quickly process asylum seekers without creating a near-term crisis in the midst of a deadly pandemic,’ the president-elect said. 

He blasted the Trump administration for eroding the U.S. system’s processing capacity.   

‘It’s going to take time to rebuild it,’ Biden said. ‘And we’re going to work purposefully and diligently to responsibly roll back Trump’s restrictions starting on day one.’

‘But it’s not as simple as throwing a switch to turn everything back on – especially amid a pandemic,’ the president-elect pointed out. 

Biden’s comments on Monday echoed earlier statements he had made about immigration changes taking some time. 

‘The timeline is to do it so that we, in fact, make it better not worse,’ Biden said Tuesday. ‘I will do what I said. It’s going to take – not day one – it’s going to take probably the next six months to put that in place.’   

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