Several congressional Democrats are pressuring the Biden administration to come up with a better plan to deal with waves of illegal immigrants and unaccompanied minors as the crisis along the U.S.-Mexico border continues to worsen.
Specifically, Democrats from border states and elsewhere want the administration to deemphasize a long-term strategy of dealing with root problems in countries of origin and instead focus more on what’s driving the current situation.
“We already know what the root causes are. We can send researchers down there, but we know the answers already. The question is, how do you address this issue?” Texas Rep. Henry Cuellar told Politico, noting that the administration needs an immediate plan to deal with the current crush of migrants.
“Private investment is going to be key. Foreign aid and private investment take time. It’s not going to be done today, tomorrow,” he added.
“We can’t just deal with the symptoms,” Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) told the outlet. “That’s all that we’ve been dealing with for the last two, maybe three decades, are the symptoms. That won’t work anymore.”
Their comments come on the heels of calls last week between Biden administration officials and House members to discuss the worsening migrant crisis, Politico reported, adding that the White House’s messaging is that Biden inherited a bad situation from former President Donald Trump.
And while illegal migrant traffic did begin to ramp up during Trump’s final weeks in office, Republicans — and former Trump administration officials — say it’s because of President Biden’s previous pledges to reverse his predecessor’s tough enforcement policies.
In fact, former officials with Trump’s Department of Homeland Security say they warned incoming Biden administration officials that reversing course on immigration and border enforcement would result in the very migrant crisis currently underway.
“We were sounding the alarm right after the election when the numbers started going up,” former acting Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Mark Morgan told the Daily Caller last month.
“No one was listening, before I left HHS [the Office of Refugee Resettlement] was already complaining that the UAC’s [unaccompanied alien children] they were testing at an 11 percent positive rate for COVID,” he added.
“I think they’re [the Biden administration] absolutely caught off guard by the numbers that have come to the border as fast as they are,” he added.
Some Democrat-aligned groups agree with that. Lorella Praeli, executive director of Community Change Action, told Politico that the Biden administration should have focused more on immigration strategy leading up to the inauguration.
“The White House needed to be, or should have been, more proactive, framing and telling the story three weeks before they really started to do it,” she said.
The continuing crisis at the border is having an impact on Biden’s approval rating, according to recent services. According to an NPR/Marist poll released in late March, only 34 percent of Americans approve of Biden’s handling of the border situation.
“We’re right back where we were at the height of the crisis in 2019,” Morgan told the Daily Caller. “In February I think the numbers are going to be close to if not over 100,000 in a month, they’re getting 5,000 a day, over 400 UAC’s a day, under anyone’s standards those are crisis-level numbers.”
Last month, Border Patrol and immigration authorities apprehended about 170,000 people who crossed illegally into the U.S.
“I see it doing nothing but getting worse as the weather gets better,” John Hostettler, the vice president of federal affairs for States Trust, told The DC. “With the green light that the Biden administration is putting out I think that it’s just going to get worse.”
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