President Joe Biden said on Wednesday he intends to visit the US-Mexico border when he travels next week to the North American Leaders’ Summit 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 mark Biden’s first to the border since he took office and comes as officials continue to grapple with a migrant crisis and an immigration system officials across the administration call “broken.” CNN reported earlier Wednesday that White House officials are weighing the addition of 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 stop has not been made, one of the sources said.
Biden’s potential trip to the border was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.
White House officials have resisted calls by Republicans for Biden to visit the border for two years, dismissing the idea as political theater. But in the weeks since the midterm elections, officials have explored potential pathways for immigration legislation in a divided Congress.
But any attempts at immigration reform are likely to be an uphill battle. In December, a long-shot bipartisan immigration deal led by Republican Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona fell apart following scant Republican support. The framework would have extended provided protections for undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children and extended the use of a Trump-era border policy.
The administration has repeatedly called on Congress to find a solution as it wrestles with mass migration in the Western Hemisphere.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas acknowledged Wednesday that the number of migrant encounters at the US-Mexico border is “straining our system,” but stressed that the department is managing the situation.
“We’re operating within a system that is fundamentally broken. No one disagrees with that. We just can’t seem to agree upon the solution and a solution is long, long overdue. Within the broken immigration system that we are operating, we are managing the number of encounters and we are prepared to address the end of Title 42,” he said during a Washington Post event 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 termination of the authority was put on hold following an order from the Supreme Court.
This story has been updated with additional reporting.