How Biden's border plans went from hopeful to chaotic

For about four months before President Joe Biden took office, advisers engaged in intense internal debate about how quickly they should undo his predecessor's hardline border policies. The answer, almost always, was that Donald Trump's mark couldn't be erased soon enough. Immigration advocates on the transition team defiantly shot down a detailed memo circulated among top aides that called for turning back some migrants who cross illegally by making them seek protection in other countries. They pushed back against estimates of soaring migration flows if Trump’s policies were dismantled. In the end, Biden recognized predictions that more migrants might come to the border, but he was firm that policies instituted by Trump were cruel and inhumane and had to be jettisoned. Biden took office on Jan. 20. Almost immediately, numbers of migrants exceeded expectations. Plans outlined in a December document to fully resume asylum processing at land crossings were soon overtaken by events.

Food banks embark on expansions with lessons from COVID

Food banks across the country are pursuing major expansion projects driven in part by their experiences during the pandemic, when they faced an explosion of need. “So many people who had never had to ask for help found themselves in a position of needing it and not knowing where to go,” said Ginette Bott, president and CEO of the Utah Food Bank. “It was like somebody flipped a switch.” Even though demand for fresh and packaged provisions has dropped from pandemic peaks, the need remains far above pre-pandemic levels. Feeding South Florida is planning a large new plant to increase its produce supply. Two North Carolina food banks flush with cash from billionaire philanthropist MacKenzie Scott are set to build new structures that will double their capacity to store food.

US employers shrugged off virus and stepped up hiring

America’s employers stepped up their hiring last month, adding a solid 531,000 jobs, the most since July and a sign that the recovery from the pandemic recession is overcoming a virus-induced slowdown. Friday’s report from the Labor Department also showed that the unemployment rate fell to 4.6% last month from 4.8% in September. That is a comparatively low level though still well above the pre-pandemic jobless rate of 3.5%. And the report showed that the job gains in August and September weren’t as weak as initially reported. The government revised its estimate of hiring for those two months by a hefty combined 235,000 jobs. All told, the figures in the jobs report point to an economy that is steadily recovering from the pandemic recession, with healthy consumer spending causing companies in nearly every industry to step up hiring. Though the effects of COVID-19 are still causing severe supply shortages, heightening inflation and keeping many people out of the workforce, employers are finding gradually more success in filling near record-high job postings.

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