Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas says Southwest border crossings are on track to reach the highest level in the last 20 years.
This comes as U.S. Customs and Border Protection are encountering an increasing number of unaccompanied migrant children; the agency is holding some in warehouse-like detention facilities.
This weekend the Department of Homeland Security directed the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help with the surge.
“FEMA’s involvement will hopefully be a positive force for more humane treatment because there hasn’t been,” said Moises Hernandez, vice president of board of directors of Latino Progresando. He’s an immigration attorney and owner of Hernandez Reynolds, an immigration firm.
“They’ve been locked out of the country, left at the border outside the U.S. where we know there is extreme violence, a lot of exploitation of the migrants, as you can imagine,” Hernandez said. “These are often migrants fleeing violence and trauma, often from their country of origin, or even on the long and dangerous commute up to the border.”
Mary Meg McCarthy, executive director of the Heartland Alliance’s National Immigrant Justice Center, says the situation at the border is not new, nor a crisis, but a challenge for the U.S.
She says the Biden administration has rolled back some policies implemented under the Trump administration and kept others.
“The Biden administration is only allowing unaccompanied immigrant children into the country, but continuing what’s known as Title 42 which bars other asylum seekers, including parents of some of these children, from entering the country,” McCarthy said.
Lawrence Benito, executive director of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, says two types of asylum seekers are allowed to come to the country: those who were a part of the “Remain in Mexico” program and unaccompanied children.
House Republicans visited the border Monday, blaming President Joe Biden for the situation at the border. They said the administration’s response has been slow.
During an interview with ABC on Tuesday night, President Joe Biden told migrants not to come to the U.S.
“I can say quite clearly, don’t come, and while we’re in a process of getting set up, don’t leave your town or city or community,” Biden said.
The House is expected to vote on two immigration bills this week. One would establish a path to citizenship for “Dreamers,” and the other would create a path for undocumented immigrant agricultural workers to reach legal status.
“People don’t leave their home countries because of what the president says,” McCarthy said. “They leave because what’s happening right there in their communities is dangerous, and they’re faced with the impossible choice of coming and making a dangerous journey to the United States.”