On Monday at the White House, Biden administration press secretary Jen Psaki addressed the ongoing concern around migrants arriving at the southern U.S. border, which Republicans have attempted to use as a rhetorical bludgeon against the Biden team. Large numbers of migrant children have recently arrived at the border, and figures like Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) have blamed the Biden administration’s policies for the influx, but as Psaki noted on Monday, the Trump team left a “dismantled and unworkable system” behind.
In place of meaningfully constructive immigration policy reform, the Trump administration opted for plans like forcing asylum-seekers to wait in Mexico while their claims were processed in the United States. They also spent huge sums on constructing physical barriers at the border, and theoretically, this money could have been used to more adequately prepare for influxes of migrants beyond the policy equivalent of a sign saying “Keep Out!”
Psaki commented as follows:
‘The last administration left us a dismantled and unworkable system, and like any other problem, we are going to do everything we can to solve it. So our focus here is on solutions. Let me just walk you through a couple of the steps… CDC has updated guidelines to return to full capacity. This will help expand capacity to move children more quickly out of CBP facilities. That’s an important step.’
Psaki added that federal personnel from outside of Customs and Border Patrol are now embedded with the border team in order to help expedite the process of handling arriving migrants. Meanwhile, Psaki also noted that FEMA is now “providing support at the border” and “adding extra capacity to [the Department of Health and Human Services] for quick processing to avoid overcrowding.” The Biden team is also “looking for additional facilities,” Psaki added. The Trump team could have used their resources to set up expanded facilities — but instead, they pursued wall construction.
Watch Psaki’s comments below:
— The Hill (@thehill) March 15, 2021
As another step in their effort to smooth out the process for handling unaccompanied children arriving at the border, the Biden administration recently announced that they’d be formally ending the Trump administration’s policy that allowed agents to obtain information about the immigration status of people who came to pick up unaccompanied minors. Federal personnel were set up to be able to use this information for potential deportations, and although the policy was eroded before the Biden team’s formal change, these circumstances obviously created a cloud of fear around pick-ups of migrant children, which didn’t exactly help with any federal resource strains.