The Biden administration is warning migrants to delay flooding the US border as the government works “around the clock” to repair an immigration system shattered by former president Donald Trump’s “cruelty.”
“We are flooding the space with that critical message,” US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said on Monday in a White House press briefing. “I cannot overstate its criticality to the wellbeing of those individuals who are thinking of coming,” explaining that Washington is working with NGOs and the governments of Mexico and Central America to get its message out to migrants.
Mayorkas sounded almost apologetic that the US can’t yet open the immigration floodgates at the southern border. He said President Joe Biden’s administration is working 24/7 to “replace the cruelty of the past administration with an orderly, safe and humane immigration process.” He told reporters that he can’t yet estimate how long it will take to get migrant-processing systems up to full speed.
“We are working around the clock seven days a week to make that timeframe as short as possible, but they need to wait,” Mayorkas said. “But they need to wait with a particular goal in mind. We are not saying don’t come, we’re saying don’t come now because we will be able to deliver a safe and orderly process to them as quickly as possible.”
Part of the problem, Mayorkas said, is that CDC rules currently require the US Border Patrol to return arriving migrants to Mexico under Covid-19 travel restrictions.
DHS also is grappling with what Mayorkas called “the most powerful and heartbreaking example of the cruelty that preceded this administration” – separation of families at the border. He said a special Biden administration task force has reunited 105 children with their families thus far and is working with NGOs, lawyers and the private sector to bring all other separated families back together.
“We are dedicating resources full-time across the government and the Department of Homeland Security to this effort,” he said. “The urgency of it cannot be overstated… This is not only an all-of-government but an all-of-society effort to do what is right.”
All of the affected families will be given the choice of reuniting in their home country or in the US, regardless of their qualifications for asylum status or otherwise legal entry, Mayorkas said.
Trump blasted Biden’s immigration policies in his speech on Sunday at the CPAC in Orlando. He said Biden is inviting a surge in illegal immigration and pushing child migrants into the hands of human traffickers and smugglers. “It’s dangerous, immoral and indefensible,” Trump said.
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