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President Joe Biden on Tuesday said he does not have plans to visit the U.S.-Mexico border “at the moment,” even as his Homeland Security secretary warned that the number of illegal immigrants entering the country could reach levels not seen in 20 years.
“The situation at the southwest border is difficult,” DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement on Tuesday. “We are on pace to encounter more individuals on the southwest border than we have in the last 20 years.”
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who led a delegation of 13 GOP lawmakers to visit the border on Monday, called on Biden to travel to the border himself to see the crisis firsthand.
“He needs to come to this border, look what has happened, at what he’s created, and change it,” McCarthy told Fox News.
“It’s worse than a crisis. I thought I would see a crisis, but this is really a human heartbreak,” he said.
While Mayorkas said “poverty, high levels of violence and corruption in Mexico and the Northern Triangle countries” are to blame for the influx, and have “propelled migration to our southwest border for years,” Republicans have said it is Biden who is at fault for the surge, after he loosened immigration restrictions.
Biden rescinded the Trump-era Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) and reinstated “catch and release.” Experts say Biden’s plan to create a pathway to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants has served as an incentive for migrants to attempt to cross the border.
The Biden administration is struggling to get a grip on the rapidly deteriorating situation at the border: the number of migrant children in custody along the border has tripled in the past two weeks to more than 3,250 and of that more than 1,360 have been held for longer than the allowed three days, according to the report.
Customs and Border Protection (CBP) said there were roughly 100,000 apprehensions at the border last month.
While Biden has declined, at least in the short-term, to travel to the border, Republican Senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn of Texas are set to lead a delegation of senators to visit the border on March 26, while Representatives Jodey Arrington and Brian Babin, both Texas Republicans, will lead a 15-member group from Congress in a trip to the border from March 29 to 31.
Representative Henry Cuellar (D., Texas) last week blasted the Biden administration’s handling of the U.S.–Mexico border crisis, calling out a delegation from the White House for failing to speak to anyone when they visited the border.
“Any president should come down [and] really spend time with border communities,” Cuellar told Fox News. “You know, the president sent a delegation and a bunch of folks from the White House. They didn’t talk to anybody, not even members of Congress down here.”