US President Joe Biden has urged migrants and refugees to stay home, telling them not to attempt to cross the US border, even as his own officials sound alarms over what they say is the largest influx of immigrants in two decades.
During an interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos that aired on Tuesday night, Biden was asked for clear advice to the thousands of migrants hoping to enter the country through its border with Mexico, suggesting they do not make the effort.
“Yes, I can say quite clearly: Don’t come over,” Biden said
Don’t leave your town or city or community.
When pressed on why his administration did not “anticipate this surge,” the president deflected, saying 2019 and 2020 also saw immigration spikes, though he ultimately acknowledged this year’s crisis “could be” worse.
The comments came just hours after Biden’s Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas warned that the US is currently “on pace to encounter more individuals on the southwest border than we have in the last 20 years,” noting the conditions there continue to deteriorate. The president told reporters earlier on Tuesday he has no plans to visit the border anytime soon.
Reporter: “Do you have any plans to travel to the southern border?”President Biden: “Not at the moment.” pic.twitter.com/Sw5oIj5vKf
— The Hill (@thehill) March 16, 2021
Still, Biden insisted that most illegal immigrants are not allowed to reside in the US after arriving, challenging perceptions that his administration would pursue looser border policies than his predecessor’s.
“The idea that Joe Biden said, ‘Come’ – because I heard the other day that they’re coming because they know I’m a nice guy – here’s the deal: they’re not,” Biden continued, adding that “the adults are being sent back, number one.”
Number two: What do you do with an unaccompanied child who comes to the border? Do you repeat what Trump did? Take them from their mothers, hold them in cells, et cetera? We’re not doing that.
Instead, the president said that federal agencies are working to provide “safe facilities” for young migrants, and to move them out of the custody of border police as soon as possible. However, critics have pointed to recent reports that hundreds of underage immigrants remain in detention facilities at the US border, some held for longer than the three-day limit set under federal policy.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki has acknowledged the ongoing detention of minors, but said the administration only has “a couple of options” and that, for now, the confinement of migrant children at federal facilities is the best choice available.