As another caravan of Central Americans and Haitians heads north to the U.S. southern border, the Biden administration is making little apparent effort to comply with a federal judge's order to reinstate the Remain in Mexico Policy, while also claiming to be focusing on border security.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who has repeatedly sued the administration over immigration, says the administration is inviting illegal aliens to the U.S. while also making it harder for Border Patrol agents to do their jobs.
A caravan of roughly 2,000 Central Americans and Haitians left Tapachula, Mexico recently — the same day President Biden met with Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. Instead of sending a clear message to the caravan to turn around, the leaders sent an implicit message that the border is open and the Remain in Mexico Policy remains inoperative.
The caravan, led by Center for Human Dignity leader Luis Garcia Villagran, is expected to meet former Arizona activist Irineo Mujica in Veracruz, where it is to be joined by even more people, before attempting to make its way into the U.S. illegally.
Their destination is likely the Rio Grande Valley sector in Texas, which has felt the brunt of illegal immigration, with hundreds of thousands pouring through the border towns of Donna, McAllen, and Brownsville in recent months. The southernmost part of Texas is the shortest distance from Veracruz.
The Migrant Protection Protocols, the formal name for Remain in Mexico, restrict illegal aliens' ability to remain in the U.S. during legal immigration proceedings, which greatly reduces the burden shouldered by state and federal agencies tasked with defending the border.
If the MPP were reinstated, those in the caravan would be denied entry into the U.S. They'd be required to wait instead in Mexico while their cases made their way through the legal immigration process, which often takes years.
Biden suspended the policy by executive order in January on his first day in office. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas officially halted it in July, arguing the new administration's approach of releasing asylum-seekers into the U.S., was more humane.
Texas and Missouri sued, and a federal judge ordered the administration to reinstate the policy.
While the administration said it would reinstate the MPP in November, according to recent court filings, White House officials told reporters that renewed enforcement wasn't even on the agenda of the Nov. 18 Biden-Lopez Obrador meeting.
"There's not a real focus, this time around, on our borders," an administration official told reporters on a preview call ahead of the talks.
When reporters asked about Remain in Mexico, the White House official said, "It's not actually one of the themes or focuses of [the meetings]."
"The Biden administration is not doing what they need to do to stop" record illegal border crossing, Paxton told Fox News Live. "As a matter of fact, they're inviting it."
"It's clear to me that the Biden administration does not want to stop this," he said. Worse still, he charged, the administration is "aiding and abetting the cartels for not only the transportation of drugs but also the transportation of human beings."
Many entering "have COVID, some are drug runners, potentially criminals, they could be terrorists," Paxton warned. "We don't know ... We aren't able to keep track of them."
In remarks released before before the North American Leaders Summit, Biden affirmed that Mexico and the U.S. "were equal countries."
Lopez Obrador said he was committed to "helping in the integration of North America as a region" and thanked Biden for urging Congress to give amnesty to millions of illegal aliens already living in the U.S.
The two leaders announced they began "concrete projects together that will improve international communications networks, strengthen bilateral supply chains, and promote economic development in southern Mexico and Central America."
They also announced a joint investment to allow both countries to address "the root causes of migration in Central America and sustainably increase incomes for small farmers and reduce deforestation in southern Mexico."
They also made a vague pledge to "work jointly to engage with other partners in the Americas on this regional challenge through pursuit of a bold new regional compact on migration and protection," including creating working groups on arms trafficking and related transborder crime and border security.
The caravans coming through Mexico — primarily to the Rio Grande Valley sector — are coming through a region of Mexico controlled by the Gulf Cartel, notorious for its integrated human smuggling network. A caravan numbering up to 4,000 people pushed through a highway checkpoint manned by hundreds of Mexican police in southern Mexico in October.
Paxton says he'll do whatever it takes to ensure that the administration follows the law. Biden's refusal to do so "has created chaos at our border," Paxton said in September in seeking a court order to compel the administration to stop dragging its feet and reinstate MPP. "Our officers are working endlessly to try to manage the crisis that is overwhelming our state.
"I have already sued this administration and won — yet they still think they are above the law and can continue shirking their responsibilities. It's time to stop the Biden Administration from acting outside of federal law. They have created this crisis by inviting illegal aliens to come into our country unlawfully."