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How will Biden respond to the wave of migrants gathered under a Texas bridge?

In recent days the number of migrants converging under the Del Rio International Bridge has soared and the White House is under pressure to find a solution.

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How will Biden respond to the wave of migrants gathered under a Texas bridge?
GO NAKAMURA REUTERS

President Joe Biden is facing increased pressure to respond to a growing number of migrants who have converged under a border bridge which connects Del Rio, Texas to Mexico's Ciudad Acuña. More than 10,000 people are thought to be gathered in cramped conditions with scant provisions in sweltering heat.

Those gathered are thought to primarily hail from Haiti, although Cubans, Venezuelans and Nicaraguans are also amongst the 10,503 present, according to Del Rio Mayor Bruno Lozano.

With the number of people gathered beneath the bridge continuing to swell by the hour there is growing concern about extreme heat as the temperatures rise to 99 Fahrenheit (37 Celsius).

What is Biden’s stance on the growing humanitarian issue at the Mexican border?

The border issue is now thought to be a key focus of the Biden Administration but he is attempting to tread a fine line between the different approaches favoured by those within his own party. Some want a stronger deterrent to discourage anyone from attempting to make the journey, while others would be vocal opponents of anything appearing to bring about a return of the Trump-era detention camps.

Earlier this year Biden reintroduced some of the so-called “catch-and-release” policies that Trump had removed in an attempt to ease the burden on US Border Patrol. However despite that effort, recently released government data revealed that authorities arrested more than 195,000 migrants at the Mexican border in August alone, close to a 20-year high.

The White House had hoped to use a public health order to expel migrant families with children at the Mexican border, but on Thursday a federal judge ruled that it could not do so. Judge Emmet Sullivan of the District of Columbia District Court asserted that there are sufficient anti-covid measures to mitigate the spread of covid-19 at the border without the extra powers.

This ruling does not take effect for another 14 days and already more than 950,000 migrants have been swiftly expelled from the border using the public health authority, known as Title 42. The order will remain in place for single adults and may well be a prominent tool as Biden looks to clear those gathered at the border.

Texas clashes with White House guidance

Also on Thursday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced that he had directed the state’s Department of Public Safety and the Texas National Guard to close six points of entry across the US-Mexico border. He argued that “agents are overwhelmed by the chaos” and blamed “the sheer negligence of the Biden Administration to do their job and secure the border.”

However the White House has insisted that Texas does not have the power to unilaterally close off the US border and issued a strongly-worded response to the governor. Department of Homeland Security spokesperson Marsha Espinosa told CNN that "it would be a violation of federal law for the Texas National Guard to unilaterally do so."

The stand-off between the White House and Republican governor will continue until a solution can be found to limit the number gathering at the border, but the situation on the ground is likely to deteriorate for as long as it continues.