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Jimena Casso

Remove, put: Chess and migration

- All of Biden's moves need to be as rigorous as a game of chess.

Remove, put: Chess and migration

Since Joe Biden assumed the presidency, migration has not only been a key factor in his government, but it has also been the protagonist of the United States-Mexico relationship. And how not to become trend if in less than 100 days of his administration arrests increased by 28% and the number of migrant children tripled?

Undoubtedly, the president, more than getting the public to light thousands of candles and pray for him, managed to unleash another wave of migrants. For Biden people cross heaven, sea and land! And the worst part is that it is not a joke: after the speech made on January 20 of this year, in which immigration reform was discussed, there was a call effect. That is, migrants were inspired and motivated to carry out mobilizations, product of the hope that it will be this new administration, openly declared pro-immigrant, that will grant them their citizenship.

They say that fish die through their mouths, and in this case, Biden drowns in his words. While the intention is good, the reality is that the displacement crisis is only getting worse and government actions are not enough to counter the flows. They turn on the hot key and get burned, turn on the cold and freeze, it will take time to find the balance to address the complexity that comes with it.

On the one hand, the speech and actions are oriented towards a safe, orderly and humanist migration, but on the other hand, they are asked to wait for the correct time to “prepare” to receive them, because otherwise they would lose total control of the issue. As Alejandro Mayorkas mentioned, American policy is focused on reconstruction: "we're not saying don't come, we're saying don't come now."

Request that is given in view of the fact that the Trump era completely dismantled the American asylum system: the facilities were closed and the migrants expelled. This disappearance of the structure that the United States had for “orderly and humane migration” coupled with the vast mobilizations, worsened the alarming situation and led the Americans to carry out a monumental re-engineering effort to completely restructure the system. However, to achieve this process of consolidation of an efficient immigration procedure, time is needed, time that the American government simply does not have. Therefore, the only move on the board that could sufficiently delay and contain the migrants, allowing the proceedings to be reconstructed, is to use Mexico as a recipient.

Mexican support being vital, they sought to start a negotiation with the objective of Mexico agreeing to do, once again, the dirty work of the United States, although now it would be temporarily. Thus, during their first formal meeting they reached an agreement where Andrés Manuel would allow Central American migrants to remain in Mexican territory in exchange for a supply of 2.7 million vaccines against Covid-19 that would be sponsored by the American government.

And everything was going smoothly, until last week, during a press conference, Biden commented that both governments were renegotiating. The argument was that Mexico was fully willing to support, however, the reality was that Mexican soil does not have enough space to carry out the work, and even worse, there are multiple legal impediments to detain migrant minors. Therefore, migrants from the Northern Triangle would have to stay in the United States.

Let's remember that during Trump's term, Mexico acted as a guard for the Americans. Although we were very motivated to support the tariffs with which they threatened us, the reality is that the Mexican president does not care about the laws and if he wanted to, he could make this request. He uses this premise as an excuse because he knows that he has the king in check, and he is not going to waste it. Does Biden need it? Let him pay the price.

For his part, the American representative removed Roberta Jacobson from office to place his vice president and right hand, Kamala Harris at the forefront of the cannon. It is in this sense and under this perception that migrant chess should be analyzed. Does Mexico not cooperate with Jacobson? Remove the bishop, the queen is going! The vice president enters the ring as the immigration crisis manager under immense pressure to show that they are different from the Republicans. And it will be this project that will determine the future of the Biden government administration. If they succeed, they will disarm the Republicans, win the respect of the population and the hearts of immigrants. If he fails, it could cost him re-election.

As a summary, on the board we have: the reconstruction of a system that will take months to build, a need for migrants to cover that is timeless, a neighbor (Mexico) that does not want to cooperate and a wave of caravans generated by the discourse of immigration reform. In this delicate game, Biden will have to analyze each of the movements to be made to avoid following in Trump's footsteps by trying to contain the movements and buy enough time during the game for his immigration procedure to work. In this remover, it will be necessary to see if the bishop or pawn goes.

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Casso, Jimena. “Quita, pon: Ajedrez y migración.” CEMERI, 22 sept. 2022,