Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has praised President Joe Biden for taking a stand against the U.S. border wall, and criticized conservatives during the North American Leaders’ Summit on Tuesday. It comes as the United States sees a surge in illegal immigration across the southern border.

“You, President Biden, you are the first president of the United States in a very long time that has not built not even one meter of wall. And that—we thank you for that, sir, although some might not like it—although the conservatives don’t like it,” Lopez Obrador said in a joint press conference.

He thanked Biden for maintaining a “relationship of cooperation” with Mexico and for not subjecting Mexicans who “live and work in a very honest fashion” in the United States to harassment. “They’re not suffering raids as it unfortunately used to happen in the past,” the Mexican president added.

Lopez Obrador asked Biden to insist that Congress “regularize the migration situations” of millions of Mexicans who have been living in the United States.

On Jan. 21, 2021, a day after becoming president, Biden issued an executive order that halted construction of the border wall, commenting that a massive wall spanning the entire southern border is “not a serious policy solution” and a “waste of money.”

Between 2017 and 2020, 450 miles of the wall were authorized and built under the Trump administration.

In July last year, the Department of Homeland Security announced that the remaining funds, which were allocated for the construction of the wall along the Mexico–U.S. border, would be spent on “environmental remediation and mitigation” as well as for installing cameras, lighting, and detection technology in places where barriers are already built.

Migration Jump

Under the Biden administration, illegal immigrants entering via the southern border have surged. During fiscal year 2020, there were 458,088 apprehensions. This rose to 1.73 million in fiscal year 2021, a jump of 278 percent, data from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) show.

During fiscal year 2022, apprehensions rose to 2.3 million. In the first two months of fiscal year 2023, apprehensions exceeded the total apprehensions of fiscal year 2020. According to Steven Kopits with Princeton Policy Advisors, the rise in border crossers is set to continue its upward trend this year as well.

Kopits had earlier predicted around 2 million apprehensions for 2021 and 2.3 million for 2022, which is close to the actual numbers. For 2023, Kopits is predicting apprehensions to hit 2.6 million, another record in terms of annual illegal immigration.

If Kopits’s projections are true, it would mean that 6.9 million illegal aliens would have been apprehended between 2021 and 2023 under the Biden administration.

GOP Action

On Sunday, Biden visited the southern border for the first time since his presidency. House Republicans are planning to investigate the Biden administration on the issue of border security.

Rep. Mark Green (R-Tenn.), who was recently selected by the House Steering Committee to chair the House Homeland Security Committee, has promised to fight for a stronger U.S. border.

“For the sake of our national security and homeland security, we must secure our border,” Green said in a statement to Fox. “We have no choice. We will empower our brave CBP agents to do their jobs and hold President Biden and [Department of Homeland Security] Secretary [Alejandro] Mayorkas accountable for the crisis that they created.”

Since Biden became president, he has presided over more than 5.5 million illegal border crossings as well as over 1.2 million known gotaways. The term “gotaways” refers to illegal immigrants who were spotted by agents or captured on camera but have not been caught or processed by officials.

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