Immigration: Biden government on the defensive in the face of its first crisis

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“The border is closed”: on the defensive and accused of having caused the influx of thousands of migrants, Joe Biden’s government was on all fronts on Sunday to try to reassure its ability to manage the first major crisis of its presidency.

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The new President of the United States was elected in particular on the promise of turning the page on the pandemic and the economic slump that resulted from it.

But only two months after arriving at the White House, he is accused by Republicans, but also by some Democrats, of having created a call for air on the border with Mexico and of being now entangled in a crisis. migration that he refuses to call by name.

“We are expelling families, we are expelling single adults,” Internal Security Minister Alejandro Mayorkas insisted on Sunday, who has stepped up to repeat this message on four American channels. “The border is closed,” he insisted.

The first Hispanic responsible for US migration policy, he admitted in mid-March that a historic influx of migrants, the largest in 20 years, was expected at the US-Mexico border.

But he has come under fire for his initial appeal to Central American migrants not to come to the United States “for now” in order to allow time for the Biden administration to “rebuild” the migration system. “Dismantled” by former President Donald Trump.

“It’s irresponsible,” Republican Congressman for Texas Michael McCaul told ABC channel Sunday, saying the “words” had made migrants feel they were welcome. “They created a crisis,” he added.

Elected Democrats from this border state also deplored the government’s message.

And several migrants interviewed by AFP after their arrival confirmed to have been motivated in part by Joe Biden’s promise of a more “humane” policy.

The Democratic administration is therefore trying to rectify its message, while avoiding speaking of a “crisis” to only mention “problems at the border”.

“I can say clearly: do not come”, launched Tuesday the president to the candidates for immigration.

Beyond the influx of migrants, it is the fate of isolated children that is at the heart of the controversy.

Joe Biden pledged to erase “a moral and national shame” inherited from his predecessor, namely the separation of thousands of migrant families, some of which have still not been reunited.

But if the children are no longer separated from their parents, the United States is faced with the arrival of a significant number of unaccompanied minors, and is struggling to explain how they intend to take care of them.

“We have made the decision not to expel young vulnerable children,” Alejandro Mayorkas reaffirmed Sunday on CNN channel.

The minister did not deny the number of 5,200 children currently held in adult centers at the border, well above the peak recorded under the Trump presidency. More than 600 of them have also been there for more than ten days, while the law allows their transit only for a maximum of three days.

Democratic Senator Chris Murphy said Friday, after visiting one of the controversial centers, that “hundreds of children” were “crammed into large open rooms.”

“I had to fight back my tears when a 13 year old girl began to sob inconsolably as she explained how terrified she was, having been separated from her grandmother and without her parents, who are in the States. -United, ”he tweeted.

“We are working day and night to move these children from these centers at the border to shelters managed by the Ministry of Health”, assured Alejandro Mayorkas, stressing again having inherited a system “devastated” by the Trump administration. . “We set up three new centers last week”, “we are rolling out our plan, it takes time, it is difficult”, he admitted, without giving more details on this “plan” nor s ‘commit to a schedule.

On the conservative Fox News channel but also on CNN, closer to the Democrats, the minister was also questioned about the lack of access for the press to the border centers where these children are located.

“Under the Trump presidency, journalists were allowed to enter these centers,” reporter Dana Bash told CNN. Alejandro Mayorkas invoked the pandemic to justify these restrictions.