Biden announces toughening of border enforcement, drawing praise from Mayor Adams

President Biden, facing pressure over a surge in migrants entering the U.S., said Thursday that his administration would “stiffen” enforcement on the southwestern border and streamline the process for deciding refugees’ asylum claims.

Under the president’s plan, the U.S. would expand its admission of people from Cuba, Nicaragua, Haiti and Venezuela through a parole program, but accelerate efforts to send unauthorized migrants back across the border to Mexico.

“My message is this,” Biden said in a speech from the Roosevelt Room of the White House. “If you’re trying to leave Cuba, Nicaragua or Haiti, or have agreed to begin a journey to America, do not — do not — just show up at the border.”

“Stay where you are and apply legally from there,” the president said.

The program drew criticism from migrants’ advocates. Jonathan Blazer, the American Civil Liberties Union’s director of border strategies, said in a statement that Biden’s blueprint “further ties his administration to the poisonous anti-immigrant policies of the Trump era.”

But the shift was cheered by Mayor Adams. He has expressed frustration with the volume of migrants who have spilled into New York, stretching the city shelter system to its limit and straining other municipal services.

On Wednesday, Adams said the federal government had created a “mess.” The city has taken in more than 36,400 asylum seekers from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela since the spring, according to City Hall.

Responding to Biden’s announcement, Adams issued a statement saying that the White House had taken an “important, positive step.”

Adams told reporters for the second straight day that he had spoken with his ally Mayor Lori Lightfoot of Chicago, asserting that she shared his “frustration and anger” with the influx of newcomers.

Chicago, like New York, has struggled to manage the stream of northbound migrants, and Lightfoot also voiced support for Biden’s announcement on Thursday.

“This is just unfair to the mayors of these cities,” Adams said at a Thursday news conference at 1 Police Plaza. “I believe what the president has put in place is going to assist with dealing with the flow of migrants.”

But Adams, who has also called for congressional action, said that the U.S. is still gripped by a “crisis at our border.”

“That crisis must be addressed, and we cannot continue to ignore it,” he said. “And I think all of our partners on the national level must address this.”