Sunday, July 21, 2024

Biden Commits to Ease Border Surge as Republicans Sense a Political Opening

Biden pledges to take new steps to ease a surge of child migrants at the southern border as the White House parries Republican attacks over a humanitarian challenge that threatens his start as president.

President Biden said earlier this week that the administration planned to rebuild a system that allows potential child migrants to seek asylum in their home countries to prevent them from making the dangerous journey. In a new sign of political urgency from the administration, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas appeared on four TV shows, pushing back against criticism that the administration was caught off guard by the migrant surge.

Mayorkas also dismissed accusations that the Biden Administration reversed some of former President Trump’s policies it considered inhumane before it was ready to handle an influx. He also was not  able to provide a precise timeline for when thousands of children could be moved from cramped border patrol stations to more suitable accommodations that is crucial amid the pandemic.

In the center of the current crisis at the border is a humanitarian dilemma about what to do with unaccompanied children and teenagers to enter the country. The Biden Administration reversed a Trump- era strategy of returning all unaccompanied migrant children at the border, a practice that left them vulnerable to desperate conditions in grim camps or traffickers in Mexico.

Republicans sense that the child migrant crisis is an opening to damage Biden and Trump harnessed that Sunday by issuing a statement that included several misleading statements and accused the President of turning a “national triumph into a national disaster” at the border. Biden’s hopes of solving this challenge will rest on the capacity of officials like Mayorkas to open sufficient facilities to move unaccompanied children from jammed border posts into Health and Human Services Department facilities.

Aid to Central American countries could make a difference in easing the conditions that cause migrants to flee. However, such long- term solutions are unlikely to change the dynamic in the short term.

The White House will have to balance between its own desire to end the cruel Trump administration policies while also protecting the President from political vulnerability on the issue. Mayorkas said in a statement, “We will not abandon our values and our principles. We will not abandon the needs of vulnerable children. That is what this is all about. We are executing on our plan. It does take time. It is difficult.”