MEXICO CITY — President Biden confused illegal immigration statistics and details of a migration deal with Mexico Tuesday — moments after he was praised by Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador for not building “even one meter” of border wall.
Biden incorrectly said the “majority” of border-crossing migrants were from four countries — when in fact those nationalities made up just 31% of apprehensions in November, the most recent month for which data is available. He also hailed Mexico for agreeing to accept the return of “3,000” migrants per month of that cohort when in fact the figure is 30,000.
“You, President Biden, you are the first president of the United States in a very long time that has not built not even one meter of wall,” López Obrador told Biden at a joint press conference in Mexico City’s National Palace.
“We thank you for that, sir, although some might not like it,” said the Mexican leader, known by his initials AMLO, while noting that “conservatives” might not appreciate him saying so.
AMLO also praised the fact that illegal immigrants already in the US “are not suffering raids as unfortunately used to happen in the past” and attacked Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, for his “completely inhuman” initiative to bus migrants released by US border officials to New York City and Washington, DC, in protest of Biden’s policies.
Many members of Biden’s Cabinet attended the North American Leaders’ Summit, including Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, who oversees the agencies that handle immigration and border security.
Rep. Pat Fallon (R-Texas) on Tuesday morning introduced articles of impeachment against Mayorkas for allegedly failing to fulfill his responsibilities to secure the border.
Mayorkas gave a single-word response to The Post when asked if he had any comment on the articles of impeachment, simply saying, “no.”
The 80-year-old Biden appeared fuzzy on the details of the current migration situation at the border during the question-and-answer period of the press conference.
“Right now, a majority of our migrants are coming from four countries — Venezuela, Cuba, Haiti and Nicaragua. And we are expanding the very successful parole program we had with regard to Venezuela to Cuba and to Nicaragua and to Haiti to provide safe and orderly and humane processing for people fleeing those countries,” he said.
Biden added, “I want to thank the president of Mexico for agreeing to take up to 3,000 people back that don’t meet this criteria.”
More than 89,000 migrants from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela were detained after illegally crossing the US border in November — less than one-third of the overall 283,000 encounters, according to the latest data from US Customs and Border Protection.
A Biden administration initiative announced Thursday will allow up to 30,000 migrants per month from the four countries if they pass background checks and have a US sponsor. As part of that plan, Mexico agreed to take back at least 30,000 people of those nationalities who illegally cross the border.
Biden previously turned heads with his migration commentary during his trip to Mexico City, including on Monday significantly understating US deaths caused by fentanyl.
The president also said Monday evening that “we’re well on our way” to “tackle irregular migration” despite continued record-setting border crossings.
Biden presided over a record-smashing nearly 2.4 million border-crossing arrests in fiscal 2022, which ended Sept. 30. The figures from October and November show illegal border-crossings are up 40% and 34%, respectively, over the same months in 2021.
Biden made his first visit to the US-Mexico border as president on Sunday but drew criticism because he didn’t interact with migrants after El Paso officials cleaned up homeless camps. Republican critics said Biden visited a “Potemkin Village” that disguised the crisis.