President Joe Biden was pressed during a CNN-sponsored town hall Thursday evening about the ongoing migrant and drug-smuggling crisis along the U.S.-Mexico border and was asked if he had plans to visit the region anytime soon.
At one point a law student named Megan Crawford mentioned Biden’s previous criticism of President Donald Trump’s border enforcement policies, asking, “Given that’s it’s nearly been a year into your [term], why haven’t you been to the southern border of our country?”
Continuing, Crawford asked: “And why did your stance on allowing immigration suddenly revert to Trump-era policies?”
In response, Biden noted that his administration has been ordered to re-implement Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” policy because “the court said I had to maintain it.” He then said that the Border Patrol has worked to significantly reduce the number of migrant children who were in their custody, adding that both he and Vice President Kamala Harris, whom he appointed as ‘border czar’ in March, were also attempting to address causes of migration from Central American countries.
Host Anderson Cooper then noted that Biden has also kept Title 42 active, which authorizes the federal government to expel migrants who cross illegally very quickly due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Biden responded by explaining “we maintained that because of…the continued extent of COVID in those countries fro which people are coming.”
“It’s very, very high. And so, we maintained the policy. We are not sending back children. We send back adults and we send back large families,” Biden said.
“But we don’t send back children in that circumstance. That’s why I have a proposal to provide for over a billion doses of COVID vaccine to the rest of the world, including a significant portion to Latin and Central America,” he added.
Ultimately, Cooper returned to Crawford’s questions and asked the president if he had plans to visit the southern border.
“I’ve been there before [and] I know it,” Biden said, adding, “I guess I should go down.”
But he went on to explain there were other considerations as well.
“But the whole point of it is I haven’t had a whole hell of a lot of time to get down. I’ve been spending time going around looking at the $900 billion worth of damage done by hurricanes and floods and weather and traveling around the world,” he claimed.
“My wife Jill has been down. She’s been on both sides of the river. she’s seen the circumstances there. she’s looked into those places. You notice you’re not seeing a lot of pictures of kids lying on top of one another with what looks like tarps on top of them. We’ve been able to deal with that,” Biden continued.
“We’ve been able to significantly increase funding through the HHS to provide shelter for these kids and people. But, there’s much more to be done. It is a thing that concerns me the most about being able to get control of it,” he added.
Republicans have regularly blasted Biden and Harris both for failing, in their view, to take the situation along the southern border seriously, as hundreds of thousands of migrants have crossed illegally into the U.S. nearly every month of their administration.
Last week, documents leaked to Fox News show that the administration has allowed as many as 160,000 migrants to remain inside the U.S. since March.
According to the documents, at least 94,570 illegal aliens released into the U.S. since March 20 were given a Notice to Report, which requires them to check in with an Immigration and Customs Enforcement office when they reach their destination.
Also, the documents indicate that another 32,000 have been allowed into the U.S. since Aug. 6 under an authorization known as parole authority, which gives them a legal residency status.
“As a field chief, I don’t believe I ever approved more than 5 or 10 paroles in a year. When I did, I ensured that the alien was monitored continuously and was detained or removed as soon as the circumstances allowed,” former Border Patrol Chief Rodney Scott told Fox News regarding the unusually high number of parole authority grantees.
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