Amid an influx of migrants on the US-Mexico border, Biden’s team tries to tamp down political griping.
Joe Biden campaigned on a promise to reverse what he called the “damage” and “shame” caused by Donald Trump’s immigration policies.
But just weeks into his efforts to keep that promise, Biden is now facing an influx of migrants at the United States-Mexico border, in what his administration is calling a “challenge” and others are labelling a “crisis”.
The numbers are up significantly: there were over 78,000 enforcement encounters at the southern border in January, according to US Customs and Border Protection, more than double the number that attempted to cross the border in January 2020.
The surge of migrants comes as the Biden administration is struggling to put into place several immigration policy changes that the new president implemented shortly after taking office in January.
“I think there is a challenge at the border that we are managing,” Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said Monday in response to a question about whether he believes there’s a crisis at the border.
When pressed by reporters on the hair-splitting between labelling the situation at the border a “challenge” or a “crisis”, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki retorted Tuesday: “I don’t think we need to meet your bar of what we need to call it.”
Republicans naturally are going to home in on the effects of Biden’s immigration policies; Trump had telegraphed as much during the campaign, accusing Biden of wanting “open borders” and calling his immigration ideas “insane”.
Trump spent a significant portion of his first post-presidential speech on Sunday hammering Biden, using the border as a top example of the new president’s failures.
“In just one short month, we have gone from ‘America First’ to America last,” Trump said. “There’s no better example than the new and horrible crisis on our southern border.”
What is curious is a warning from one of Biden’s fellow Democrats.
“It is not a crisis yet, but it will become a crisis,” Democratic Representative Henry Cuellar of Texas told Fox News Tuesday. “The number of unaccompanied kids, the number of families who are coming in are just increasing every day,” he continued.