As the number of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border continues to grow, many are asking President Joe Biden to deliver a solution. Still, others say they do not want to return to immigration policies from the Trump administration.
"There's no question Donald Trump's strategy was inhumane, brutal and un-American," said Rep. Vicente Gonzalez (D-Texas), who represents a border district. "But what we're doing now is also a failure."
Many, however, say President Joe Biden's handling of the situation is no better. In one of his first moves as president, he reversed many of former President Donald Trump's immigration policies. Critics say the changes led to a spike in arrivals and a situation where Customs and Border Protection facilities are operating beyond capacity.
According to Politico, in a visit this week to the border, Sen. Ted Cruz says members of the Mexican cartel and human trafficking operations "yelled [at] and taunted" him and other Republican Senators during their visit.
"We have been listening to and seeing cartel members, human traffickers right on the other side of the river, waving flashlights yelling and taunting Americans, taunting the Border Patrol because they know under the current policies of the Biden administration they can flood over here," Cruz said in a video.
"They're getting paid $4,000-$5,000 a person to smuggled them into the country, and … when they smuggle them in, the Biden administration releases them," he added.
Democrats, however, say Biden is working to undo the damage from Trump's policies that tried to seal the border from migrants. Biden has reportedly stopped construction on the southern border wall and has ordered migrant children to be reunified with their families. Further, Biden has called for a review of immigration programs that were dissolved under Trump.
"This is a humanitarian challenge to all of us," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said previously in an interview on ABC's This Week. "What the administration has inherited is a broken system at the border, and they are working to correct that in the children's interest."
At the border
According to CBP, in February, more than 100,000 migrants arrived at the U.S.-Mexico border, and the government has been working to house them by increasing the capacity at CBP facilities.
As of mid-March, more than 3,600 migrant children were being held in U.S. border detention centers. Meanwhile, the HHS refugee office had about 8,800 unaccompanied minors in custody.
Migrants are coming from El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico and Honduras, and many say the influx stems from Biden's quick reversal of former President Donald Trump's immigration policies.
"Border Patrol is overwhelmed, overworked, & discouraged by new policies," Republican Sen. Susan Collins tweeted. "Agents took us through a dangerous path to the Rio Grande where we could hear the Cartel members taunting us across the river. Human trafficking, child abuse, & drug smuggling are rampant. This is a crisis."
Under the new policy, migrants are continued to be turned away, but unaccompanied children who cross are being turned over to the Department of Health and Human Services. The children are then released to a sponsor or family member in the U.S. to await immigration proceedings. Still, HHS facilities have swelled at or above capacity in recent weeks because of the ongoing pandemic.
Trump also pointed to Biden for the issues at the border. In a statement released in March, Trump called the border crisis a "national disaster."
"We proudly handed the Biden Administration the most secure border in history," the statement from Trump reads. "All they had to do was keep this smooth-running system on autopilot. Instead, in just a few weeks, the Biden Administration has turned a national triumph into a national disaster. They are in way over their heads and taking on water fast."
Most recently, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell also voiced his criticism, saying, "The Administration can't admit they've caused a crisis; they have yet to address the crisis; and House Democrats are backing policies that would only exacerbate the wrong incentive."
Biden, however, has said he stands by his policy changes. He says he plans to travel to visit the border "at some point."
"Rolling back the policies of separating children from their mothers? I make no apology for that. Rolling back the policies of Remain in Mexico — sitting on the edge of the Rio Grande in a muddy circumstance with not enough to eat — I make no apology for that. I make no apologies for ending programs ... that have an incredibly negative impact on the law, international law, as well as on human dignity," he said.
In a Marist poll this week, just 34 percent of Americans said they approved of Biden's handling of immigration, while 53 percent disapprove of Biden's immigration handling.
Of his first two months in office, two-thirds of Democrats said they approved of Biden's work at the borders. That rating is 27 percent approval with independents and just 5 percent with Republicans.
"There's no easy solutions," said Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion. "It's a tough issue for him, and people recognize that. It's not the issue he wants to be focusing on in his first 100 days in office, but you don't always get to pick your issues."
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, meanwhile, has turned his attention to ask Vice President Kamala Harris for answers at the border.
In a letter to Harris, Abbott invited the VP to visit the border.
"Now that President Biden has named you Border Czar in charge of the administration's response, I want to express to you the threats and challenges caused by this administration's open border policies," he said. "These policies embolden and enrich cartels, smugglers, and human traffickers who continue to ramp up their criminal operations.
"Given your new role as the administration's Border Czar, I urge you to visit the border to see the crisis for yourself, and I implore the Biden administration to take swift action to secure the border, crackdown on human trafficking, and prevent more children from being trafficked and abused."
Abbott posed several questions to the Biden administration, including how the government plans to keep children who cross the border safe from harm and if there will be stricter screening on children for signs of abuse and trafficking.
"U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Mayorkas has acknowledged that many of these children have been abused or harmed during their journeys," Abbott said in the letter. "What is the administration doing to eliminate that harm?"
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/John Moore/Staff
Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for ChristianHeadlines.com since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and IBelieve.com. She blogs at The Migraine Runner.