President Joe Biden claimed on Wednesday that a ‘surge’ of migrants at the southern border started during the Trump administration.
Biden also blamed Trump for getting rid of a $700 million foreign aid program that would have prevented the migration surge by strengthening the economies of El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, the New York Daily News reported.
The president’s comments came as he met with Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandra Mayorkas at the White House to discuss the border situation.
President Joe Biden claimed on Wednesday that a ‘surge’ of migrants at the southern border started during the Trump administration
Temporary processing facilities in Donna, Texas, safely processes family units and unaccompanied migrant children encountered and in the custody of the U.S. Border Patrol
Asylum seeking migrant families from Central America line up to be transported from a make shift U.S. Customs and Border Protection processing center under the Anzalduas International Bridge after crossing the Rio Grande river into the United States from Mexico on Wednesday
‘This new surge we are dealing with now started with the last administration, but it’s our responsibility to deal with it humanely and to stop what’s happening,’ Biden said.
He added: ‘There was a serious spike in people heading to the southern border even in the midst of that [the Trump administration]. That was because there were serious natural disasters.’
Biden said his administration will work to recommit to the $700 million program in a bid to curb migration, outlets reported.
U.S. border agents conducted 100,441 apprehensions or expulsions of migrants at the border with Mexico in February – the highest monthly total since a border crisis of 2019, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection said last week.
However, the numbers of both unaccompanied minors and families encountered at the border are lower than they were at various points during the Trump administration.
President Donald Trump faced a massive migration surge at the border in May 2019 when more than 130,000 migrants were apprehended at the border, Fox News reported.
Migration slowed drastically during the coronavirus pandemic, with just 16,182 in April 2020.
News reports on the situation have varied. Reuters called it ‘the biggest surge of migrants at its southwestern border in 20 years’ while a Washington Post analysis ‘found no crisis or surge that can be attributed to Biden administration policies.’
‘The current increase in apprehensions fits a predictable pattern of seasonal changes in undocumented immigration combined with a backlog of demand because of 2020’s border closure,’ Washington Post reported.
Unaccompanied migrant children are pictured at a temporary processing facilities in Donna, Texas
Unaccompanied migrant children are seen getting off a bus at a temporary processing facilities in Donna, Texas
Crews construct a section of border wall in San Bernardino National Wildlife Refuge in Douglas, Arizona in December
Biden officials have already claimed that Trump officials did not fully cooperate with his transition team, hindering their ability get a realistic view of potential migration.
They have also claimed that Trump deconstructed the immigration and asylum system – which they then inherited.
One official told CNN that Trump prevented Biden’s team from getting ‘under the hood in the time frame that other administrations would have been able to.’
‘Were we prepared? Yes,’ the official said.
‘Everyone wants to be like ‘crisis, crisis, crisis, crisis’ – but it’s like, you know what, actually, things are going really well. Yes, we brought in FEMA, but you know what? That was the responsible thing to do.’
Julie Chavez Rodriguez, the director of the White House’s office of intergovernmental affairs, told CNN that the Biden administration knew it was inheriting ‘an absolute mess.’
‘As we were coming into the administration, we knew we were inheriting an absolute mess from the previous administration,’ she said.
‘There were aspects of our legal immigration system that had been gutted and a department that lacked the personnel to administer our laws.’
Another administration official said: ‘When we came into office, like, it was a disaster. I mean, really. The staffing wasn’t in place, the structures weren’t in place.’
Republicans have argued that the border crisis is Biden’s own doing after the president issued sweeping executive actions in his first week in office that undid Trump’s immigration policies.
The Democrat controlled Congress has also worked to pass legislation to address immigration.
‘The gulf between what the Trump administration did in enforced cruelty and where the Biden administration wanted to be was so great that I don’t really think there was a clearer example that needed to be made in how the government and the administration was going to change,’ one senior administration official said.
The official added: ‘The previous administration had so radically changed what we did on migration that, I think, the President felt very strongly that we had to act really quickly and really decisively to demonstrate that it wasn’t going to be the same.’
The Biden administration has in recent weeks moved to open more than 10,000 new beds across the Southwest in convention centers and former oilfield camps.
It notified Congress on Wednesday that it will open a new 3,000-person facility in San Antonio and a 1,400-person site at the San Diego convention center.
HHS is also opening a second site in Carrizo Springs and received approval from the Defense Department Wednesday to begin housing teenagers at military bases in San Antonio and El Paso, Texas.