As the border surge continues to escalate amid increasing scrutiny, one Democrat is publicly criticizing the administration for how it handled its messaging on immigration, as well as the situation itself.
The White House and the Biden administration have repeatedly refused to use the word “crisis” when describing the historical increase of illegal immigrants crossing the U.S-Mexico border. Reporters have in recent weeks been pressing the administration on this.
In an interview with CNN, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) went further than the administration by describing the situation at the border as a catastrophe.
“Whatever message was sent—it was sure interpreted the wrong way,” Manchin told the outlet, referring to the Biden administration. “It’s a crisis—oh it’s a crisis.”
Manchin’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Epoch Times. The senator appears to be the first major Democratic lawmaker to have broken rank from his party to call the border surge a “crisis.”
The White House recently acknowledged the border surge as “a big problem,” with press secretary Jen Psaki telling reporters on March 15 that the administration is currently assessing whether to add additional facilities for unaccompanied minors, or children who cross the border illegally without an adult.
The head of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said on March 16 that the number of illegal immigrants entering the United States via the southern border has spiked during President Joe Biden’s first two months in office.
“We are on pace to encounter more individuals on the southwest border than we have in the last 20 years,” DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement.
Republican members of Congress laid the blame of the surge on Biden’s immigration policies.
Standing in El Paso, Texas, near the U.S.-Mexico border on March 15, House Republicans denounced the policy changes, relaying the overcrowded conditions they saw firsthand in a holding facility and the dismay from border agents who are being overwhelmed.
“This is a human heartbreak. The sad part about all of this is it didn’t have to happen,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) told reporters, calling the situation the “Biden border crisis.”
Biden should travel to the border and talk to agents while grappling with what his policies have spawned, McCarthy added.
An ongoing immigration policy tracker by the Heritage Foundation found that Biden has rollbacked almost all of former President Donald Trump’s immigration policies.
Border Patrol apprehended 100,441 illegal border-crossers along the southern border in February, according to Customs and Border Protection. The number reflects a 28 percent increase over January.
Over the weekend, DHS announced that the Federal Emeregency Management Agency will be sent to the border to “support a government-wide effort over the next 90 days to safely receive, shelter, and transfer unaccompanied children who make the dangerous journey to the U.S. southwest border.”
Zachary Stieber contributed to this report.