Clips of a recent interview with President Joe Biden have leaked online ahead of the broadcast — and it has liberals furious over Biden’s message to illegal immigrants.
“Don’t come,” Biden said about the growing influx of illegal immigrants that have overwhelmed the U.S. Southern border.
The Biden administration has been on the defensive recently. The head of Homeland Security was recently forced to acknowledge the depth of the problem but claimed, without evidence, that it’s under control.
“A lot of the migrants coming in say it’s because you said you’d make things better,” ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos said to Biden in a clip released of his upcoming interview. “It seems to be getting worse by the day. Was it a mistake not to anticipate this surge?”
“Well, first of all, there’s been a surge in the last two years — in ’19 and ’20 there was a surge,” Biden replied.
“This one might be worse!” Stephanopoulos said.
“No. Well, it could be,” Biden said, then seemed to get confused. “Here’s the deal: We’re sending back people…. f-f-first of all, the idea that Joe Biden said ‘Come’ … they’re coming because I’m a nice guy and I won’t, uh…”
“They’re saying this!” Stephanopoulos said. Biden denied that claim.
“Do you have to say quite clearly, ‘Don’t come’?” he was asked bluntly.
“Yes, I can say quite clearly: Don’t come over … Don’t leave your town or city or community,” Biden said.
The number of illegals being stopped at the U.S.-Mexico border has been rising for months, and the administration is still relying on a public health order issued by President Donald Trump at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and rejecting most adults. But it is allowing teens and children to stay in so-called “cages” — and they have been coming in ever larger numbers.
More than 4,000 migrant children were being held by the Border Patrol as of Sunday, including at least 3,000 in custody longer than the 72-hour limit set by a court order, according to a U.S. official. That’s more than any under Trump’s administration, when he was accused by Democrats of running “concentration camps.”
The agency put another 561 illegal immigrant children in custody on Monday, twice the recent average, according to a second official.
It has put Biden in a difficult spot, blasted by Republicans for what they view as his encouragement to illegal border crossers and by Democrats over the prolonged detention of minors.
The number of illegals attempting to cross the border is at the highest level since March 2019 and is accelerating. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas warned that it is on pace to hit a 20-year peak.
“The situation at the southwest border is difficult,” Mayorkas conceded Tuesday in his most extensive remarks to date on the subject. “We are working around the clock to manage it and we will continue to do so. That is our job.”
The number of children crossing by themselves, mostly from Central America, surged in particular in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas. The Border Patrol took in 280 there alone on Monday.
The total of 561 unaccompanied minors from Monday offers a snapshot of how quickly conditions have changed along the border. That was up 60% from the daily average in February, one of the officials said. In May 2019, during the last surge, the one-day peak was 370 teens and children.
Children and teens crossing by themselves rose 60% from this January to more than 9,400 in February, according to the most recent statistics released publicly by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
The Health and Human Services Department plans to open another detention facility at Moffett Federal Airfield near San Francisco and in Pecos, Texas, to handle the flow. It is also looking to expand a facility in Donna, Texas, in the Rio Grande Valley, to hold 2,000.
That’s not all. The Dallas Convention Center is scheduled to begin locking-up illegal children as early as Wednesday with plans to accommodate up to 3,000. Another makeshift holding center in Midland, Texas, that opened last weekend for 700 children had 485 on Monday.
Officials say smugglers have encouraged people to try to cross under the new administration.
Mayorkas rejected a Trump-era policy of sending all illegals immediately back to Mexico or other countries, seen as an important deterrent.
At a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing Tuesday, Sen. Jim Inhofe held up a photo of a crowd of demonstrators in Tijuana, Mexico, wearing matching T-shirts with the words “Biden, Please Let us in” that circulated widely on social media in recent days.
“They’re all coming across the border, they’re coming fast, and they’re wearing Biden T-shirts,” said the Oklahoma Republican.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy led a delegation of a dozen Republican lawmakers on Monday to the border in Texas and blamed the Biden administration for driving an increase in migrants by actions that include halting border wall construction and supporting legislation in Congress that would provide a path to citizenship for millions of undocumented people now in the country.
“The sad part about all of this is it didn’t have to happen. This crisis was created by the presidential policies of this new administration,” McCarthy said.
The Biden interview airs later Wednesday. You can see the clips here —
EXCLUSIVE: @GStephanopoulos presses Pres. Biden on the border crisis.
"Do you have to say quite clearly, 'Don't come'?
— Evan McMurry (@evanmcmurry) March 16, 2021
The Associated Press contributed to this article