Biden is shirking his duties on the US-Mexico border

2021 has seen a surge in the number of people trying to cross the US-Mexico border. Reuters
2021 has seen a surge in the number of people trying to cross the US-Mexico border. Reuters

From Europe and the Middle East to South America and the Asian Pacific, the lives of an increasing number of migrants and asylum seekers are being put on hold. Governments in various countries are struggling to resolve the contradiction between the universal desire to travel to find prosperity and the difficulties societies encounter in welcoming newcomers.

Even the world’s most powerful country, one that built itself on the idea that all are created equal and have the right to pursue happiness, can find itself immobilised by this conundrum. In the south of the US, along the border with Mexico, local and federal authorities are failing to provide for hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people.

After illegal border crossings dropped during the Covid-19 pandemic, numbers are surging once again. In the opening months of 2021, almost 180,000 people have moved towards the area from Mexico and elsewhere in Latin America. A great deal of them have already attempted the dangerous journey into the US. Many are asylum seekers, and some are even unaccompanied children, who live all too frequently without specialist housing and educational facilities in an area that is home to some of the country's most violent drug cartels.

Many children attempt the crossing, with some even travelling alone. Reuters
Many children attempt the crossing, with some even travelling alone. Reuters

In 2021, almost 180,000 people have moved towards the border

The National recently reported on the work of Felicia Rangel-Samponaro, a Texan woman who is distributing vital provisions and organising education for many lone and stranded young people. Despite the dangers of violence in the area, Ms Rangel-Samponaro continues to cross from the US to provide, as much as she can, services that many believe should be the concern of the American state.

Perhaps most remarkably of all, Ms Rangel-Samponaro, a former teacher, founded an unofficial "pavement school" in the Mexican border city of Matamoros, enlisting the help of educated migrants that had also been turned back from the crossing. She pays teachers a living wage, and students have a chance to continue their educations.

Ms Rangel-Samponaro has been undertaking her mission on the Mexican side of the border since November 2018. She felt compelled to do so after hearing the anti-asylum seeker rhetoric of former US president Donald Trump. And yet, with a new administration well into its first months in office, her work, unfortunately, remains as important as ever.

President Joe Biden made his opposition to Mr Trump's immigration policies a central part of his election campaign, reaping the political capital of the many Americans who opposed the former president's approach. Months into his new administration, Mr Biden has not done enough to fulfill his pledges, inaction on a major campaign promise.

Most importantly, it is a betrayal of the many vulnerably people America should be helping. As Ms Rangel-Samponaro put it, "These asylum seekers belong to us... The US asylum seekers are our responsibility.”

Published: April 1, 2021 07:00 AM

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