President Joe Biden said Wednesday he intends to visit the U.S.-Mexico border when he travels to next week’s summit of North American leaders in Mexico City.
“That’s my intention, we’re working out the details now,” Biden told reporters before boarding Air Force One.
The visit would be Biden’s first visit to the border since taking office and comes as officials continue to grapple with a migrant crisis and an immigration system that officials across the administration are calling “broken.” CNN reported earlier Wednesday that White House officials are considering adding a visit to the US-Mexico border when Biden travels to the summit, according to sources familiar with the matter.
A final decision on whether to add the border freeze has not yet been made, one of the sources said.
Biden’s possible trip to the border was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.
White House officials have resisted Republican calls for Biden to visit the border for two years, dismissing the idea as political theatre. But in the weeks since the midterm elections, officials in a divided Congress have been exploring possible avenues for immigration legislation.
But any attempts at immigration reform will likely be an uphill battle. In December, a long-term bipartisan immigration deal led by Republican Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona fell apart after scant Republican support. The framework would have expanded protections for undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children and expanded the application of Trump-era border policies.
The administration has repeatedly urged Congress to find a solution as it grapples with mass migration in the western hemisphere.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Wednesday acknowledged that the number of encounters with migrants at the US-Mexico border “is taking a toll on our system,” but stressed that the department is managing the situation.
“We work in a system that is fundamentally broken. Nobody contradicts that. We just can’t agree on a solution and a solution is long overdue. Within the broken immigration system that we run, we manage the number of encounters and are ready to tackle the end of Title 42,” he said during a Washington Post event on Wednesday.
DHS was preparing for the end of Title 42 — a Trump-era Covid restriction that allows authorities to turn away migrants at the US southern border — but the agency’s termination was stayed after a Supreme Court order .
This story has been updated with additional reports.