President Joe Biden referred to the border situation as a “crisis” on Saturday, ending his previous refusal to use the term.
Biden said he was lifting the cap on the number of refugees who can resettle in the United States, reversing his plans not to raise the limit after strong criticism from the Left, due to the “crisis that ended up on the border.”
“We’re going to increase the number. The problem was that the refugee part was working on the crisis that ended up on the border with young people,” he said at the end of a round of golf on Saturday. “We couldn’t do two things at once, but now, we are going to increase the number.”
The Biden administration previously refused to use the term “crisis” when referring to the surge of migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, instead terming the situation a “challenge.” Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas called the situation a “challenge” that the administration is currently “managing,” and White House press secretary Jen Psaki declined to call the surge a “disaster” when asked by Fox News’s Peter Doocy.
“I know that we always get into the fun of labels around here, but I would say our focus is on solutions, and this is one of the steps that the president felt would help not become a final solution but help expedite processing, help ensure that people who are coming across the border have access to health and medical care. Clearly, the numbers are enormous. This is a big challenge,” Psaki responded on March 15.
Republicans have long termed the situation a “crisis” and faulted the Biden administration for the surge.
“It’s more than a crisis. This is human heartbreak,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said from El Paso, Texas, while leading a group of 13 House Republicans to the border. “It didn’t have to happen. This crisis is created by the presidential policies of this new administration.”
The United States is facing a large number of migrants, particularly unaccompanied minors, crossing the southern border. More than 100,000 migrants were encountered at the border in February, officials say, and reports indicate that an unprecedented 117,000 migrant children will enter the U.S. by the end of the year. The most recent border surge saw the arrival of 80,000 unaccompanied minors at the southern border in 2019.
On Wednesday, Vice President Kamala Harris, who was given a lead role in addressing the substantial uptick in migrants, said she will travel to the Northern Triangle in Central America, including stops in Mexico and Guatemala, to discuss the root causes of the surge. Biden has indicated that he plans to visit the border, but specific travel plans have not been announced.