Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) said on Sunday that he believes the flow of illegal immigrants to the U.S. southern border can be curbed if the Biden administration reinstates former President Donald Trump’s policies.
“All you have to do is talk to the Border Patrol members. They’ll tell you straight up. All we have to do is go back to what we were doing before President Biden,” Kennedy told Fox News’ Sunday Morning Futures. “President Biden undid everything that the Republican Congress and the Trump administration did.
“It’ll be fixed in a week,” he said.
The United States is facing a significant influx of illegal immigrants in recent weeks, in particular from unaccompanied minors. While families and single adults are being expelled at the border, the administration is still accepting unaccompanied minors who arrive illegally, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said last week.
The influx of unaccompanied minors has overwhelmed border facilities and resources, and prompted the administration to build overflow facilities to house the immigrants under its more “humane” policies. However, the administration has not been able to keep up with the flow of the illegal border crossings, prompting concerns of overcrowding in detention facilities amid a pandemic.
Over 16,500 unaccompanied migrant children were in the custody of either Customs and Border Protection (CBP) or the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as of March 23, according to the HHS Administration for Children and Families.
Republican lawmakers have argued that the burgeoning crisis is a result of President Joe Biden’s move to overturn several Trump-era immigration policies that helped curbed the flow of illegal border crossings. This includes his predecessor’s cornerstone Migrant Protection Protocol, which effectively ended the problematic “catch and release” policy, significantly stemming the surge of illegal immigrants that were seen at the southern border in 2019.
In a return to the Obama-era policies that facilitate “catch-and-release,” the Biden administration is again releasing unaccompanied minors into the country. The lawmakers argue that Biden’s act has been interpreted as a signal to prospective migrants to travel to the United States.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who led a delegation of Republican senators to the border on Friday, called the situation at the border a “heartbreaking” humanitarian crisis that is a “direct consequence of policy decisions by the Biden administration.”
“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,” the Texas senator said.
The Biden administration, on the other hand, has sought to shift the blame on former President Donald Trump’s administration, with Mayorkas saying that the previous government had “dismantled the orderly, humane, and efficient way of allowing children to make their claims under United States law in their own country.”
The number of family units (19,246) and unaccompanied minors (9,457) crossing illegally rose significantly in February, compared to 7,294 family units and 5,585 unaccompanied minors in January, and 4,404 family units and 4,993 unaccompanied minors in December 2020.
Similarly, the United States also faced a sharp spike of enforcement encounters in February at 100,441 encounters compared to 78,442 in January, 74,018 in December, and 72,111 in November.
“Either President Biden, or if he’s not making the decisions then the people that he’s put in charge, believe in open borders,” Kennedy added.
“They think that vetting people at the border is racist. I and every other country in the world think it’s prudent. What we’re doing now is dangerous, it’s expensive and puts downward pressure on wages, and it unreservedly undermines the rule of law and legal immigration.”
Kennedy, who joined Cruz’s delegation on Friday, also encouraged Biden to go to the border and visit the facilities. The president has previously indicated to reporters that he has plans to do so but has not provided concrete details as to when he will visit.