Democratic Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona on Monday joined GOP Senator John Cornyn of Texas in calling on President Joe Biden to use his “full authorities” to address the migrant crisis at the southern border.
“We write to urge you to use your full authorities to effectively respond to and successfully manage the ongoing crisis at our Southwest Border. It is critical that our nation take aggressive steps to secure our border, protect our communities and ensure migrants are treated fairly and humanely,” Sinema and Cornyn wrote in a letter to Biden.
Nearly 30,000 unaccompanied minors crossed the southern border in February, close to the total number of unaccompanied minors who crossed last year. Meanwhile, more than 100,000 people were apprehended crossing the border illegally last month, an increase of 28% from January.
Meanwhile, Biden has scrapped several of the Trump administration’s border policies, including the “Remain in Mexico” policy, which required that migrants seeking asylum in the U.S. cross back over the border and wait in Mexico until their immigration court date.
The two senators urged Biden to “take immediate action in two areas: ensuring there are sufficient resources and facilities at the border to manage the crisis and taking concrete steps to improve the asylum process.”
The bipartisan letter recommended that Biden take steps to streamline the asylum process as well as the coordination between federal agencies and departments. Sinema and Cornyn cautioned, however, that any improvements to the asylum process should also protect migrants’ due process rights and should make sure they have access to legal counsel and medical services while detained.
“We cannot afford to be consumed by partisan battles on this critical topic,” the senators concluded. “We will continue to seek bipartisan agreement with you and our colleagues to develop common-sense solutions that improve the situation on our border and keep our communities safe.”
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas declared Sunday that the border is “closed” despite the ongoing migrant surge, in particular of unaccompanied children, and declined to offer specifics on when the Biden administration will open new facilities to house migrant children at the border in more humane conditions.
Biden said Sunday that he plans to visit the southern border “at some point” but added that he is already familiar with “what’s going in those facilities” when asked whether he wanted to view the facilities for himself.
Former President Donald Trump released a scathing statement on Sunday criticizing Biden’s handling of the migrant surge, urging the new administration to “immediately complete the wall” at the southern border.
“We proudly handed the Biden Administration the most secure border in history,” Trump said in the statement. “All they had to do was keep this smooth-running system on autopilot. Instead, in the span of a just few weeks, the Biden Administration has turned a national triumph into a national disaster. They are in way over their heads and taking on water fast.”