US President Joe Biden promised a more compassionate immigration policy than that of his predecessor, Donald Trump, who moved in myriad ways to restrict the flow of newcomers to the country. An unprecedented surge of migrants crossing the US southern border, however, has reignited the long-running debate in the US over immigration and tested Biden’s relatively welcoming approach. In an effort to cope with the increase in arrivals, his administration Jan. 4 announced a new policy expanding opportunities for people from four countries to come to the US directly from their homelands while restricting their ability to enter from Mexico.
US Border Patrol reported 2.2 million encounters of migrants entering the country without authorization in the 12 months that ended Sept. 30, the vast majority crossing from Mexico. The number, which includes some people trying more than once, compares with almost 1.7 million the year before, the previous record. It’s impossible to know what share of border crossers manage to evade authorities; the Department of Homeland Security in 2017 estimated that 15% to 45% do.