Biden Admin Blames Trump For Record Illegal Border Crossings Migrants that crossed into the United States in the Rio Grande Valley and were flown to El Paso, Texas, rest at the Instituto Nacional de Migracion after being expelled to Mexico in Ciudad Juarez on April 6, 2021. (Photo by Paul Ratje / AFP) (Photo by PAUL RATJE/AFP via Getty Images)
Thursday, 08 April 2021 12:06 PM
The Biden administration is playing the blame game, finding fault with the previous administration's poor planning that has left federal officials scrambling to handle an ever-increasing surge of migrants, including record numbers of unaccompanied minors.
More than 172,000 migrants were apprehended in March — the highest monthly total in the last two decades, according to Customs and Border Protection data released Thursday.
Nearly 18,900 were unaccompanied minors, double the number from February and far above the previous record high of 11,861 in May 2019.
"CBP has experienced an increase in encounters and arrests. This is not new," acting CBP commissioner Troy Miller said in a statement. "Encounters have continued to increase since April 2020, and our past experiences have helped us be better prepared for the challenges we face this year."
But a Biden administration official was more pointed on call with reporters Wednesday, blaming the Trump administration, noting there were more than 16,000 children in the care of the Department of Health and Human Services.
"We are continuing to dig out of the hole that was left by the previous administration," the unnamed senior officials told reporters, saying Trump officials at HHS didn’t plan for an influx of unaccompanied children, Spectrum's NY1 reported.
The official said the Biden administration has made "significant progress" since Jan. 20, but warned "no-one should have the expectation it’ll be solved overnight" — and called on Congress work to fix the immigration system.
President Joe Biden also blamed former President Donald Trump.
"He dismantled all the elements that exist to deal with what had been a problem and continued to be a problem for a long time," Biden said last month, Fox News reported.
"He, in fact, shut down the number of beds available. He did not fund HHS to get people to get the children out of those Border Patrol facilities where they should not be and not supposed to be more than a few days — a little while. But he dismantled all of that."
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas also used that rationale in an interview with ABC News March 21.
"And why does it take time now? Why is it especially challenging and difficult now? Because the entire system under United States law that has been in place throughout administrations of both parties was dismantled in its entirety by the Trump administration," Mayorkas told ABC News.
Republican lawmakers argue what's really driving the numbers is the perception that Biden is more welcoming to immigrants — and the flood of migrants has become a political vulnerability for Biden.
Less than a quarter of Americans approve of the president’s handling of unaccompanied minors at the border and 56% disapprove of his handling of immigration broadly, according to an Associated Press/NORC poll.