President Joe Biden used an executive order to do away with former President Donald Trump’s Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), which kept foreigners who tried to enter the U.S. illegally in camps in Mexico while they awaited hearings.
Instead, Biden returned to a “catch-and-release” policy in which illegal aliens are allowed to enter the U.S.
Suddenly, the flow of foreigners to the border has exploded. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents apprehended nearly 100,000 people at the border in February. Last April, just more than 16,000 were captured at the border, according to Pew data.
On Sunday, Biden was asked by a reporter what more can be done at the border.
“A lot more. We’re in the process of doing it now, including making sure that we reestablish what existed before, which was they can stay in place and make their case from their home country.”
Biden also said he will go to the border “at some point.”
The president’s remarks came after his administration awarded the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency $86.9 million to house illegal aliens in hotels near the U.S.-Mexico border.
The hotel rooms will be used by families who have not yet been ordered deported but are undergoing immigration proceedings for their expulsion.
“The contract, through Texas-based nonprofit Endeavors, provides 1,239 beds and ‘other necessary services.’ The families will receive a comprehensive health assessment, including COVID-19 testing,” according to Fox News.
Jon Allman, president and CEO of Endeavors, said the money will provide “critical services to migrant families, which is a continuation of services we have delivered to the migrant population since 2012.”
Endeavors’ services will also include “therapeutic regiments, educational resources and mental health care,” Fox reported. “Endeavors also offers culturally appropriate, trauma-informed, child-centered case management, home study, and post-release services for unaccompanied children and their sponsors.”
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Tuesday said the surge of foreigners at the southern border is the worst in 20 years.
While still refusing to call the situation a “crisis” — calling it merely a “difficult situation” — Mayorkas said in a statement that “[w]e are on pace to encounter more individuals on the southwest border than we have in the last 20 years.”
Mayorkas also said that the the many of the thousands of unaccompanied minors now detained in border facilities have family already in the U.S.
“In more than 80 percent of cases, the child has a family member in the United States. In more than 40 percent of cases, that family member is a parent or legal guardian. These are children being reunited with their families who will care for them,” Mayorkas said.
According to data released by the Customs and Border Protection, some 19,000 migrant families were caught at the border in February, more than double the 7,000 families caught there in January. Unaccompanied children caught crossing the border increased from 5,694 in January to 9,297 in February.
ICE acting director Tae Johnson on Saturday declared that the border is “not open.”
“The majority of individuals continue to be expelled under the Centers for Disease Control’s public health authority,” Johnson said.
Over the weekend, Biden officials claimed former President Donald Trump did not cooperate with Biden’s transition team, which has caused the situation at the border.
“As we were coming into the administration, we knew we were inheriting an absolute mess from the previous administration — that there were aspects of our legal immigration system that had been gutted and a department that lacked the personnel to administer our laws,” said Julie Chavez Rodriguez, the director of the White House’s office of intergovernmental affairs, according to CNN.
An unnamed administration official reportedly 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.”
But former acting CBP Commissioner Mark Morgan told CNN that the Biden transition team was “specifically warned again and again and again,” adding that officials even modeled a projected increase in border encounters if Trump policies were withdrawn.