Faced with a border disaster crisis, hand-crafted by his eagerness to rescind many of his predecessor’s deterrent policies combined with past rhetorics of naive promises that have enticed a massive surge of migrants crossing the U.S. southern border, President Biden is offering a new blunt message to asylum-seekers — “Don’t come over.”
In an exclusive interview with ABC News on Tuesday, host George Stephanopoulos asked the president, “Do you have to say quite clearly, ‘Don’t come?'”
“Yes, I can say quite clearly: Don’t come over,” Biden said in response in a preview interview clip shared Tuesday evening that was conducted following his COVID relief victory “Help Is Here” tour in Darby, Pennsylvania.
“We are in a process of getting set up, and it’s not going to take a whole long time it’s to be able to apply for asylum in place. So don’t leave your town, or city or community,” he added.
Biden claimed that there was a surge in the last two years of Trump’s presidency, though he acknowledged that his own border crisis “could be” worse. When asked if it was a mistake “not to anticipate” such a surge along the southern border that is “getting worse by the day.”
However, Biden officials were warned before taking office that making any sudden immigration move during a global pandemic would lead to chaos at the border. Ignoring the warning from the previous administration and some democrat lawmakers who represent border district, Biden just shortly after being sworn-in took quick executive action to undo several Trump-era immigration policies by ending the construction of Trump’s signature U.S-Mexico southern border wall and immediately suspended the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) — known as the “Remain in Mexico” policy. But, his administration failed to prepare for the consequences of looser enforcement, and 55 days later they have become ill-equipped and under-resourced to handle the mounting surge.
Stephanopoulos reminded the president that migrants are motivated to make the risky trek in illegal crossing the open border, due to his lenient immigration stance. Biden dismissed that notion saying only “adults are being sent back,” if apprehended at the border.
“Yeah, well here’s the deal. They’re not. The adults are being sent back. That’s number one,” Biden said. “Number two, what do you do with an unaccompanied child that comes to the border. Do you repeat what Trump did? You take them away from their mothers, move them away, hold them in cells, etc. We’re not doing that.”
“The vast majority of people crossing the border are being sent back. They’re being sent back immediately sent back,” Biden added later on in the interview.
DHS Chief Alejandro Mayorkas disclosed in a lengthy statement Tuesday, addressing what he described as a “difficult” situation at the border that is likely the worst it has been over the last 20 years. DHS currently projects by the end of 2021, there will be 117,000 unaccompanied child migrants crossing the border based on the last two and a half months recording levels that were the highest in the past 15 years.
Meanwhile, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is on pace to make more than 130,000 arrests and detentions in this month alone, up from 100,000 reported in February and more than three times the amount for February 2020.
Out of the 100,000 plus migrants attempting to cross the border, nearly 30,000 of them were unaccompanied children with 26,850 were between the ages of 13 to 17, and 2,942 of them are under the age of 12.
As of Sunday, an average of 565 unaccompanied minors entered CBP custody per day, up from last month’s average of 313 children per day. There also has been a major spike in the number of migrant children held in custody. Last week, it was reported that as many as 4,200 unaccompanied migrant children were being held in the short-term holding facilities, with nearly 3,000 of the unaccompanied children in CBP custody had been held longer than 72 hours. A week prior, CBP was holding more than 3,200 minors reported for that week, a 31% increase.
The influx has stretching the shelter system to its limits, leaving Biden officials scrambling in crisis mode to find new space. Last month, the Biden administration reopened an overflow shelter in Carrizo Springs, Texas, despite progressives outcries, and is now utilizing the downtown Dallas convention center to house up to 3,000 migrant teenagers. The Biden administration is preparing to quickly expand its network of migrant-child shelters by reopening next month the scandal detention facilities in Homestead, Florida, and are in talks with the Pentagon about finding additional overflow sites in military bases.
During the interview, Biden attributed the high numbers to the “mess” he inherited from the Trump administration, saying his plan is to address the root causes of migration and speed up the process of placing unaccompanied migrants with U.S. sponsors.
“You have to try to get control of the mess that was inherited. And the way to get control of the mess was inherited…to go to the root cause of why people are leaving,” Biden said. “We’re gonna make sure we have facilities in those cities and towns, run by DHS with HHS, you can apply for asylum from where you are right now.”
“That’s the best way to do this. In addition to that, while we also change the circumstances on the ground in those communities, you’re going to diminish the reason why people want to leave in the first place,” he added
Earlier on Tuesday, Biden told reporters that he currently has no plans to visit the southern border, despite devoting his time to visit battleground states for a national tour touting his American Relief Plan that was just passed with no GOP support late last week.
“Not at the moment,” Biden told reporters on the south lawn of the White House when he was asked whether he had any plans to visit the border.
The missed chance of not planning a visit down to the border whereas a president has the power to draw international attention shows that both Biden and the White House continue to ignore reality, as they have for weeks by refusing to call the burgeoning situation at the border a “crisis.”
Meanwhile, illegal migrants living in border encampment just across from the U.S. border also have their own message for the president: “Biden please let us in!”