As AMAC has reported in recent weeks, Joe Biden is already facing an unprecedented crisis at the southern border. Pressure is mounting from the public and the media to stop the unfolding disaster–and members of President Biden’s cabinet have sought to either downplay the situation or blame the Trump administration. But the American People are not buying it: a recent ABC News/Ipsos Poll shows that 57% of Americans disapprove of Biden’s handling of the border, while only 40% approve.
The situation is becoming more dire by the day. New photos and firsthand accounts of conditions at the border, as well as recent data from Customs and Border Patrol (CBP), show that the border crisis is only worsening. Border encounters are on pace to far surpass numbers from recent years, particularly during these peak months for migration from late winter to early spring. In February alone, CBP encountered more than 100,000 migrants, a figure well above the 36,000, 76,000, and 36,000 numbers seen in February each of the past three years.
Perhaps even more concerning than the sheer number of people showing up at the border is that single adults and unaccompanied minors – the two demographics that pose the greatest challenges for border patrol and law enforcement agents – appear to be the groups driving the recent increases. Of the more than 100,000 encounters in February of this year, 71,598 were single adults, while 9,457 were unaccompanied minors.
This massive surge is placing an unsustainable strain on detention facilities at the border. In some instances, more than 2,500 unaccompanied children have been awaiting placement in facilities with fewer than 500 beds. Crowded conditions have also raised concerns for maintaining social distancing protocols in response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The New York Post reported last month that the Biden administration was even releasing COVID-positive migrants into the United States.
In light of this crisis, even many in the media are beginning to admit that President Biden’s campaign rhetoric led to the ongoing surge at the border by encouraging migrants to come to the United States. In recent weeks, photos have emerged showing migrants wearing t-shirts with the Biden-Harris campaign logo and the phrase “please let us in.” Despite the apparently clear connection between Biden campaign talk and the arrival of these migrants, President Biden dismisses the notion that the southern border is seeing dramatically higher illegal migration flow because of his campaign promises to offer amnesty and greatly relax border and immigration enforcement. Biden simply says “That’s not the reason they’re coming.”
The migrants themselves apparently do not agree. In an interview with ABC News’ Martha Raddatz, one migrant in Tucson was asked, “Would you have tried to do this when Donald Trump was President?” His reply: “Definitely not…We used to watch the news, and I definitely wouldn’t do this.”
Raddatz clarified, “So did you come here because Joe Biden was elected president?”
“Basically,” the man said.
President Biden has not yet visited the border, and he has been reluctant to allow journalists access to migrant detention centers poverty and other border facilities. When pressed on this issue during his first press conference on March 25th, Mr. Biden stated that reporters would have access to border facilities “as soon as I am in a position to be able to implement what we are doing right now.” He went on to explain that he had yet to visit the border because “I don’t want to be, you know, bringing all of the Secret Service and everybody with me to get in the way.”
In addition to denying members of the press access to border facilities, some lawmakers have also raised concerns about the pushback they have themselves received from members of the Biden administration when they traveled to inspect the facilities being used to house migrant children. During a recent visit to the border, Senator Ted Cruz (R – TX) posted a video to Twitter that appeared to show a woman, whom Mr. Cruz identified as a Biden administration staffer, attempting to block him from filming conditions inside a migrant detention facility.
On March 24, President Biden officially tapped Vice President Kamala Harris to lead the response to the border crisis, placing her in charge of the interagency effort to restore order to the border region. Ms. Harris has no immediate plans to actually visit the border, instead opting to focus on “border diplomacy.” The White House currently backs a plan to send $7 billion to Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras in an attempt to alleviate poverty in those countries. How this will stop the current crisis is unclear. Meanwhile, former President Trump, who made numerous trips to the border throughout his presidency, has stated that he is considering a visit to the border soon.
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