By Michaela M.
What’s really going on at the Border?
According to the official White House website titled under “The Biden-Harris Administration Immediate Priorities,” there is a section about Immigration. Although brief, it shows the main idea of what they are working on. It states that,
“President Biden will reform our long-broken and chaotic immigration system. President Biden’s strategy is centered on the basic premise that our country is safer, stronger, and more prosperous with a fair and orderly immigration system that welcomes immigrants, keeps families together, and allows people across the country—both newly arrived immigrants and people who have lived here for generations—to more fully contribute to our country.”
On March 24, 2021, President Biden placed Vice President Kamala Harris in charge of the border issue, saying,
“it’s not her full responsibility and job, but she’s leading the effort. She knows what she’s doing, and I hope we can move this along.”
In the presidential election website for Joe Biden while he was running for president, (https://joebiden.com/) under the immigration page, it states that,
“As president, Biden will commit significant political capital to finally deliver legislative immigration reform to ensure that the U.S. remains open and welcoming to people from every part of the world”
In the White House’s official website, they provide the transcripts from the Press Briefings. On March 9th of this year, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki hosted the briefing. This was the conversation that was held when a reporter asked her a question:
Q “At this point, is this a crisis at the border?”
MS. PSAKI: “Look, I don’t think we need to sit here and put new labels on what we have already conveyed is challenging, what we have conveyed is a top priority for the President, what our policy teams are working on every single day.”
“They, obviously — there was a trip to the border this weekend. They are working over the course of every day since then on putting in place policies that can help address what we’re seeing and help ensure that we are keeping these kids safe and moving them as quickly as possible from Border Patrol facilities to shelters where they can have access to educational resources, health resources, mental health resources, legal aid, et cetera.”
Q “On — follow-up on that, Jen. Thanks. There are reports out there that the number of unaccompanied migrants detained at the border has tripled in the last two weeks to 3,200-plus. Is that number accurate?”
MS. PSAKI: “I’m not going to confirm numbers from here. Obviously, the Department of Homeland Security and others are — oversee the programs and the engagements that happen at the border.”
“I will say that there are a couple of reasons. I know Aamer asked about our, kind of, change in policy, but there are a couple of reasons why we think people are coming to the border. Of course, individuals are fleeing countries where individuals and families are — you know, they’re fleeing prosecution, fleeing violence, fleeing economic hardships, and other things.”
“The region has also experienced two hurricanes in the fall, putting further stress on the conditions in these countries and the circumstances that are facing individuals. And all of this is taking place during a global pandemic that has impacted other countries’ economies, placing undue hardships on its people, just as it did in the United States. So there are also a range of factors that are leading individuals to come to the border.”
Q “But, Jen, why won’t you confirm that number? That’s a very important number.”
MS. PSAKI: “I — we’ve been very clear that there is an increase, that there are more children coming across the border than we have facilities for at this point in time. Those numbers are tracked by the Department of Homeland Security, so I’m certainly — I’m just suggesting that you talk to them about specifics.”
Q “But we’ve talked to them, Jen. They won’t confirm the numbers.”
MS. PSAKI: “Well, I would encourage you to go back to them and ask them again. We’re not going to confirm them from the White House. It’s not our program; it’s the Department of Homeland Security’s-“
Q “Are you encouraging the Department — is the White House encouraging the Department to release those numbers then, in the spirit of transparency that the Secretary promised here at this podium?”
MS. PSAKI: “We certainly encourage transparency, but what I also think is important is to talk about what the root causes are here and what we’re doing from a policy standpoint to try to address the challenges that we’re facing and that these kids are facing as they come across the border.”
On Homeland Security’s official website under immigration data and statistics, the last released document was dated July 2020.
Recently, however, a total of 17 senators from all over the US went down to Texas to view the border. The group was led by Texan senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz. When they came back, they showed and told what they found and saw.
The Donna Migrant facility has the capacity of only 250. It has nearly 4,000 people. According to the CDC guidelines, it says that one should wear a mask, stay 6 ft apart from those who don’t live in the same household, get the COVID-19 vaccine, avoid crowds, and to wash your hands often. At the facility, Ted Cruz recalls the cramped conditions, saying,
“We saw cages after cages after cages of little girls, of little boys, lying side by side, touching each other covered with reflective emergency blankets. There was no six-foot space, there was no three-foot space, there wasn’t a three-inch space between the children lined up one after the other after the other. “
He also recalls seeing the positive COVID-19 results.
“We also saw a group of children who just today tested posited for COVID-19. The Donna facility alone reports roughly ten percent of the individuals being held there are testing positive for COVID-19. Rates dramatically higher than the US population and the Biden administration is taking people who are testing positive for COVID-19 and locking them in cages side by side this is inhumane, it is wrong and it is the direct consequence of policy decisions by the Biden Administration to stop building the wall, to return to catch and release, and to end the stay in Mexico policy.”
He closed by saying,
“This needs to stop. It is a crisis, it is a tragedy, and it is a man-made crisis. This was avoidable, this was preventable, and regardless of your party, Republican or Democrat, you should look at what’s going on here and say, enough is enough, this must stop.”
Senator John Barasso of Wyoming also came up to speak. He began by thanking the Border Patrol. What he explained, he also shared what they (border patrol) told the group, explaining,
“They told us that their job got a lot, lot harder on January 20th, the day that Joe Biden became President of the United States. As we were with them, last night, in the darkness across the river we could see the traffickers and the coyotes and the smugglers on the other side of the river with their bright lights almost as bright as that television light right there. And they were taunting our border agents, saying “You cannot stop us now.” That’s what our agents are up against as the result of the policies of the Biden Administration.”
The group repeatedly requested from the Biden Administration that they bring the media with them. They were denied. When the senators started taking pictures themselves, they were asked by the Biden Administration to put their cameras aside. According to APnews.com, the Trump, Obama, and George W. Bush Administrations allowed the media to come to view the Border and facilities there. Senator Lindsey Graham said that the bottom line was that Border Patrol cannot keep up with the flow of immigrants coming into the US, without the policies changing.
Oklahoma Senator James Lankford made a video, which was then posted on Forbes Breaking News YouTube outlet, of when he visited one of the border processing centers in Texas. In the video, he explains how a processing facility has had to open under a bridge, which comes from Mexico to the US. He says,
“They’ll go through a very basic screening where basically they’re asked; do you feel well kind of thing with a basic screening. They’ll get their name and information. If they have a child that’s six years old or younger, or they’re an unaccompanied minor but they can have like 10 people together that all say their family and if they have one child that’s five or six years old then all these folks will be released tonight into McAllen Texas. Literally within a couple of hours from when they walk up from Mexico, they’ll go through the basic processing here and all these folks will be released into the United States tonight with what’s called a notice to appear. It’s a piece of paperwork saying you’ve got to show up at a court hearing. Some of those court hearings are three years later. So literally they’re into the country for the next three years.”
Until just recently, Kamala Harris has been silent on the border issue. On April 14th, she spoke to reporters, saying,
“Our focus is to deal with the root causes, and I am looking forward to travelling, hopefully as my first trip, to the Northern Triangle, stopping in Mexico and then going to Guatemala,”
Some say that it is a crisis, others say that it’s an issue. Either way, it is a problem and needs to be addressed and solved. The sooner we can put differences and opinions aside and find a way to solve the problem, the better.
“Priorities.” The White House, The United States Government, 20 Jan. 2021, www.whitehouse.gov/priorities/.
Chambers, Francesca, and Alex Roarty. “Kamala Harris Faces Political ‘Trapdoors’ as She Takes Lead Role on Migrant Border Surge.” Sacbee, The Sacramento Bee, 26 Mar. 2021, https.
“The Biden Plan for Securing Our Values as a Nation of Immigrants.” Joe Biden for President: Official Campaign Website, 5 Aug. 2020, joebiden.com/immigration/.
“Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jen Psaki and Deputy Director of the National Economic Council Bharat Ramamurti, March 9, 2021.” The White House, The United States Government, 10 Mar. 2021, www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/press-briefings/2021/03/09/press-briefing-by-press-secretary-jen-psaki-and-deputy-director-of-the-national-economic-council-bharat-ramamurti-march-9-2021.
“Immigration Data and Statistics.” Department of Homeland Security, 12 Apr. 2021, www.dhs.gov/immigration-statistics.
“JUST IN: GOP Senators Visit Migrant Detainment Facility at Border, Roast Biden Administration.” YouTube, YouTube, 26 Mar. 2021, JUST IN: GOP Senators visit migrant detainment facility at border, roast Biden administration.
“Things to Know about the COVID-19 Pandemic.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/your-health/need-to-know.html.
Aguirre, Priscilla. “’American People Deserve to See the Truth’: Cruz Tells Biden about Migrant Facility.” MySA, MySA, 29 Mar. 2021, www.mysanantonio.com/news/local/article/Ted-Cruz-blocked-by-Biden-staffer-video-migrant-16060519.php.
Bauder, David. “EXPLAINER: Why Is Media Access at the Border an Issue?” AP NEWS, Associated Press, 26 Mar. 2021, apnews.com/article/joe-biden-media-coronavirus-pandemic-immigration-ac00c21ef3be0e7d7213461289a7ba84.
“‘This Is the Thing That Biden Does Not Want You to See’: GOP Senator Visits Border Processing Center.” YouTube, YouTube, 26 Mar. 2021, “This is the thing that Biden does not want you to see”: GOP senator visits border processing center.
Al Jazeera. “US Vice President to Visit Mexico, Guatemala for Migration Talks.” Migration News | Al Jazeera, Al Jazeera, 15 Apr. 2021, www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/4/15/kamala-harris-to-visit-mexico-guatemala-to-discuss-migrants.