The White House is sending several officials on a trip to the U.S.-Mexico border as the number of illegal immigrants has surged in recent weeks, prompting warnings from local officials and House members about a looming humanitarian crisis.
“President Biden has asked senior members of his team to travel to the border region in order to provide a full briefing to him on the government response to the influx of unaccompanied minors and an assessment of additional steps that can be taken to ensure the safety and care of these children,” Biden administration spokesperson Vedant Patel said in a statement to news outlets on Thursday.
Patel did not say who will be making the trip, where it will occur, or when it will take place. Patel cited security concerns for the scant details.
According to Rep. Henry Cuellar’s (D-Texas) office, in the Del Rio Border Patrol sector alone, more than 10,000 illegal immigrants have been apprehended by agents in the last week.
The surge prompted President Joe Biden’s team to re-open a Texas facility to house young illegal immigrants that was used during the Trump administration, which drew backlash from leftist groups.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken and other Biden administration officials have urged Central American illegal immigrants not to come to the Southern Border. Republicans and immigration hawks have said that certain Trump-era policies that were rescinded by Biden have encouraged more illegal immigration.
Biden, meanwhile, told reporters that the situation isn’t a crisis.
“No, we’ll be able to handle it, God willing,” Biden remarked.
“What we are seeing now at the border is the immediate result of the dismantlement of the system and the time that it takes to rebuild it virtually from scratch,” Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas told reporters, suggesting that the previous administration was at fault.
U.S. Border Patrol agents caught more than 4,500 illegal immigrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border on Wednesday, according to government figures shared with Reuters, a large single-day tally that comes amid growing fears that illegal entries could soar in the coming weeks.
Cuellar, meanwhile, said that a number of illegal immigrants are not being tested for COVID-19, the condition caused by the CCP virus, while a spokesperson for the mayor’s office in the Texas border city of Brownsville said that more than 100 illegal immigrants were released from federal custody into Brownsville who tested positive for the virus. Some of the immigrants who were released and had COVID-19 told Noticias Telemundo Ultimas that they were planning to head to other states such as New Jersey or North Carolina.
Reuters contributed to this report.