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With situation at border worsening, Joe Biden tells migrants 'don't come over': Is it too little too late?

The president has faced a backlash from opponents and critics over the rapidly rising number of migrants who aim to enter the US, including unaccompanied minors
President Joe Biden and migrants at US-Mexico border (Getty Images)
President Joe Biden and migrants at US-Mexico border (Getty Images)

It is not something he or members of his administration have said for the first time. But despite suggesting that the complicated situation at the US-Mexico border will not improve in a short time, President Joe Biden’s administration continued to strive to find a quick solution to the border problem. He signed executive orders to reverse policies of his predecessor Donald Trump and planned to give citizenship to millions of undocumented immigrants in the US -- steps that not only put his administration under an immense challenge to handle waves of immigrants reaching the US border but also invited a backlash from the critics who felt that the Democratic president was compromising with national security.

The Biden White House has yet not conceded that the situation at the border is snowballing into a crisis (it only said that it’s a big problem) but going by Biden’s words uttered during an exclusive interview with ABC News’s George Stephanopoulos on Tuesday, March 16, one certainly gets a clear message about the pressure the commander-in-chief is feeling over his immigration policy. Biden, who is also facing a heavy criticism over the steep rise in the number of unaccompanied children on the southern border, was asked by the host whether he would have to say clearly: “Don’t come”? To that, the 78-year-old leader said: “Yes, I can say quite clearly: Don’t come over. Don’t leave your town or city or community.” The wide-ranging interview was held in Darby, Pennsylvania, where Biden visited to promote the Covid-19 relief bill worth $1.9 trillion he signed into law last week. 


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Republicans have accused Biden saying his moves to reverse Trump’s hard immigration policies have encouraged migrants to come to the US but Biden told Stephanopoulos that his administration was “sending back people” who crossed the border. When the host asked the president whether his administration made a mistake in not anticipating the surge in the migrants, Biden defended it saying the surge was witnessed even in the years prior to his coming to office. “First of all, there was a surge in the last two years. In ’19 and ’20, there was a surge, as well.” The ABC host yet pressed him saying the current surge could be worse and Biden conceded saying: “Well, it could be”.

A Honduran child plays at the Catholic Charities Humanitarian Respite Center after recently crossing the U.S., Mexico border with his father on June 21, 2018 in McAllen, Texas. (Getty Images)

“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,” Biden said, adding: “Here’s the deal, they’re not.”

Many of the migrants who aim to enter the US after facing humanitarian crises in their own lands believe that the current administration will be softer than the previous administration when it comes to allowing immigrants. However, Biden tried to put up a strict face to downplay that perception during the interview. 

Biden says he has no plans now visit southern border

Earlier on Tuesday, the president told reporters that he currently has no plans to pay a visit to the southern border. Speaking on the south lawn of the White House, he said “not at the moment” when asked about it. On Monday, March 15, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy visited the Mexico border in Texas with a delegation of fellow GOP members and insisted that the president make a visit for himself. “I know the president's going to travel this week. This is where he should bring Air Force One,” McCarthy, who also alleged that the immigrants were raising the possibility of spreading the coronavirus in the communities on the US side since a large number of them were testing positive, said in El Paso. He also alleged that those who were entering the US were not only from Central America but also from far-off countries like Yemen, Iran and Sri Lanka. 

Biden and some of his top aides had said before his inauguration as the president that the border situation would not change overnight and trying to make the changes quickly could prove to be counterproductive. In January, one of his aides told a Honduran migrant caravan heading for the US to halt its journey cautioning that the situation at the border will not improve in a flash. 

They are going to destroy our country: Trump

Former president Trump also spoke out on the matter on Tuesday while speaking to Fox News host Maria Bartiromo on ‘Fox News Primetime’. He said while he and Mexican President Andres Lanuel Lopez Obrador had built a “great relationship” with a joint interest in controlling illegal immigration and constructing the border wall, things have changed under the current administration. 

President Donald Trump (Getty Images)

"Today, they are coming in. You take a look. They are coming in from foreign countries. I see they are coming in from Yemen. They are coming in from the Middle East. They are coming in from everywhere," Trump said. "They are dropping them off and they are pouring into our country. It is a disgrace."

"They are going to destroy our country if we don't do something about it."

“Frankly, our country can't handle [the increase in migrants]. It is a crisis like we have rarely had and certainly we have never had on the border. But it is going to get much worse,” Trump added.

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said on Tuesday that the US was set to witness the highest number of arrivals across its southern border in two decades. He conceded that the rise in the number of minors is a challenge for the Border Patrol and other agencies amid the pandemic but at the same time, he rejected the Trump-era policy of sending them back to Mexico and other countries. “They are vulnerable children and we have ended the prior administration’s practice of expelling them,” he said.