As his White House deflects Republican assaults on a wrenching humanitarian crisis that threatens to tarnish his quick start as president, Joe Biden pledges to take fresh measures to ease an influx of child migrants at the southern border.
The administration is attempting to defuse the situation and the divisive politics it has sparked in Washington after weeks of refusing to term the crossings that have overwhelmed border posts a “crisis.”
The President announced on Sunday that his administration intends to rebuild a scheme that encourages future child refugees to obtain refuge in their home countries, avoiding the dangerous path to the United States through human trafficking networks to the US border with Mexico.
“I know what’s going on in those facilities,” Biden said after returning to the White House from Camp David, pledging to travel to the border himself “at some point.”
“I know what’s going on in those facilities,” Biden said upon his return to the White House from Camp David, promising to visit the border “at some point.”
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas did quadruple duty on four Sunday political TV shows in a fresh indication of political urgency from the administration, rebutting criticism that the administration was caught off balance by the migrant influx and deliberately contributed to it with a hasty rewrite of immigration laws when it took office.
“We are working round the clock 24/7,” Mayorkas told CNN’s Dana Bash on “State of the Union.” “We have dealt with surges in the past and the men and women of the Department of Homeland Security will succeed.”
Mayorkas brushed aside claims that the Biden administration overturned some of ex-President Donald Trump’s inhumane policies before it was able to deal with the influx. He couldn’t say when thousands of children would be relocated from overcrowded border patrol stations to more appropriate housing, which is particularly important in the midst of the pandemic. Mayorkas also refused to allow immediate press access to the interiors of migrant border crossings, citing Covid-19 limitations. The failure to do so has cast doubt on the new White House’s promises of greater accountability, as well as Biden’s own promise to always be honest with Americans and tell them the truth about the extent of national crises.
Biden’s Republican critics have claimed that the new White House has simply opened the border to everyone. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen sought to debunk that claim.
“We’re stepping up our marketing so that people understand they can’t cross the border. The border is shut down “Mayorkas explained to Bash.
A humanitarian question on what to do with single children and teenagers trying to reach the country is at the center of the current border crisis. The Biden administration overturned a Trump-era policy of returning all single migrant children at the border, a practice that left them vulnerable to dire conditions in squalid camps or smugglers in Mexico, as part of a slew of immigration policy reforms. The children, many of whom already have relatives in the United States, are now permitted to enter the country pending asylum applications. Contrary to Republican reports, the frontier is not accessible to everyone. The majority of undocumented families and individuals who attempt to cross the border are turned back.
Apart from the human context of the crisis — with thousands of desperate people escaping terror, repression, and natural disasters in Central America — the situation is becoming a thorny political problem. It’s detracting from Biden’s efforts to sell the public on his $1.9 trillion Covid-19 rescue plan, and it’s vying for publicity as officials urge Americans to maintain social distance in order to prevent a new outbreak until the vaccine campaign can completely eliminate infections.