President Joe Biden told reporters Sunday he was aware of the deepening border crisis and that “at some point” he would travel there to see for himself.
The current migrant surge, which began in earnest in January, has long since reached “crisis” levels, Republicans have charged, especially when it comes to the mass influx of unaccompanied children. But thus far, administration officials have downplayed it, refraining from using that word to describe the situation.
Asked by a reporter as he returned from Camp David if he planned to go to the border, Biden responded, “At some point I will, yes.”
Another reporter then noted that Biden and the administration have asked migrants not to come, adding that the message has not resonated, before asking the president what more can be done.
“A lot more,” Biden said. “We’re in the process of doing it now, including making sure that we reestablish what existed before, which was they can stay in place and make their case from their home country.”
Biden may have been referring to the Trump-era Asylum Cooperative Agreements secured with Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala, which required potential migrants to apply for asylum in their home countries rather than travel to the U.S. border, according to the Department of Homeland Security.
But Biden suspended those agreements in early February, with Secretary of State Anthony Blinken stating at the time that they were scheduled to be terminated altogether via executive order.
“To be clear, these actions do not mean that the U.S. border is open,” he said in a statement. “While we are committed to expanding legal pathways for protection and opportunity here and in the region, the United States is a country with borders and laws that must be enforced.”
During his brief press encounter, Biden was also asked if he wanted to see “firsthand” what was taking place in the crowded border detention facilities. He responded, “I know what’s going on in those facilities.”
Over the past week, administration officials, including the president, have increasingly called on migrants not to make the trip to the U.S.
“I can say quite clearly don’t come over,” Biden said last week in an interview with ABC News. “Don’t leave your town or city or community.”
And on Sunday, DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas echoed that sentiment. “The message is quite clear: Do not come. The border is closed. The border is secure,” he told ABC News.
— Conservative News (@BIZPACReview) March 21, 2021
But in a separate interview with NBC News, Mayorkas admitted that the administration was not turning back migrant minors.
“We will not expel into the Mexican desert, for example, three orphan children,” he said.
“We are safely processing the children who do come to our border,” he added. “We strongly urge, and the message is clear, not to do so now. I cannot overstate the perils of the journey that they take.”
Mayorkas also took a veiled shot at former President Donald Trump.
“We are rebuilding those orderly systems both in Mexico, in close partnerships with the Mexican government, and in the countries of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador,” he told NBC News.
In addition to suspending the Asylum Cooperative Agreements, Biden has also reversed several of Trump’s border enforcement policies including “Return to Mexico” and halting construction of the border wall, all actions critics say have caused or exacerbated the current crisis.
Some have speculated that the problem is going to become Vice President Kamala Harris’ very soon.
In an interview Saturday with Fox News’ Jeanine Pirro, Fox Nation host Tomi Lahren speculated that Democrats would replace Biden with Harris by the end of the summer after the president’s latest spill up the steps of Air Force One a day earlier.
“The fact of the matter is this: The left is going to dump Joe Biden in five months, maybe six months, and put Kamala in, as we all knew,” she said.
For his part, Biden regularly defers to Harris, letting her take phone calls with foreign leaders and calling her “President Harris.”
Biden: "I wanted to yield to my Vice President, who’s smarter than I am” pic.twitter.com/6ZShs82YcA
— Trish Regan (@trish_regan) March 20, 2021
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