Jen Psaki lauded Joe Biden on Tuesday for making improvements at the southern border while she still refused to call it a ‘crisis’ and blamed former President Donald Trump for the mass migration and overflowing immigration system.
‘After four years of an immigration system rooted in destructive and chaotic policies, President Biden is taking the challenge head on and building a fair, orderly and human immigration system,’ the White House press secretary said at the top of her briefing.
Psaki launched into a list of accomplishments related to the crisis, including Customs and Border Protection (CBP) nearly doubling their rate processing unaccompanied minor migrants and working to reunify families.
Despite improvement in CBP facilities and processing times, the number of illegal crossings have not slowed and the crisis is in full swing.
‘Clearly we’re not done, there’s a lot of work ahead,’ Psaki told reporters. ‘Migration is a dynamic and evolving challenge, but the president has a plan and we are working on implementing it.’
The administration has repeatedly refused to address the seriousness of the humanitarian crisis at the southern border – calling it everything from a ‘situation’ to an ‘issue’.
White House Press Secretary lauded President Joe Biden for fixing massive overcrowding at Customs and Border Protection facilities at the southern border. ‘After four years of an immigration system rooted in destructive and chaotic policies, President Biden is taking the challenge head on,’ she said
DHS released photos Monday showing near-empty border facilities to tout an 88% drop in the number of unaccompanied minor migrants in CBP custody – with the majority now transferred to Health and Human Services facilities
Despite improvements in CBP facilities, the number of illegal crossers has not slowed
At the end of March, the White House announced Biden put Vice President Kamala Harris in charge of the administration’s response to the situation, which saw facilities reaching several times its capacities.
In the five weeks since then, Harris has done little in her role as ‘border czar’ and has even attempted to redefine her role as focusing only on ‘root causes’ in Central America and not in the U.S.
Harris revealed Tuesday the U.S. is sending millions in aid to Central American countries and blamed ‘corrupt’ governments for the surge in migrants heading north at her first public event as ‘border czar.’
‘The United States has announced we will send an additional $310 million to the region,’ she said.
Her comments come as the administration plans to push Congress on passing a bill that will send $4 billion in aid to Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador over the next four years.
During her remarks at the 51st Annual Washington Conference on the Americas Harris underlined her role addressing ‘root causes’ of migration.
‘We want to help people find hope at home,’ Harris said in encouraging people to stay in their home countries. ‘And so we are focused on addressing both the acute factors and the root causes of migration.’
She did not mention the border at all in her speech.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced Monday a dramatic drop – by 88 per cent – in the number of unaccompanied minors in CBP custody.
New numbers, touted by DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, show only 677 remain in CBP facilities when on March 28 there were 5,767 in custody.
CBP has been able to almost double the rate it processes children and more quickly transfer them to shelters and emergency housing facilities set up by Heath and Human Services.
The agency released photos of facilities showing see-through pens nearly empty, with just a few unaccompanied minor migrants remaining. It juxtaposed the April 30 photographs with images taken March 17 showing massive overcrowding.
DHS released images from it’s Donna, Texas facility taken on April 30 showing the sharp change from images the month prior
The same facility shown above on March 30 was overflowing with unaccompanied minors migrants who were apprehended crossing the border without parents or adult family members
A graph from DHS shows UAC in Customs and Border Protection custody was on the rise until the end of March, when it took a sharp downward trend as kids are transferred to other facilities
‘In March, we faced a critical challenge at our border. The men and women of DHS have been working tirelessly over the past several weeks to respond and rebuild,’ Mayorkas said in a statement on the improving numbers. ‘Their efforts have produced dramatic results – results that ensure the safety and security of both the migrants we encounter and the American people.’
Immigration holding facilities were massively overcrowded with the surge in unaccompanied minor apprehensions at the southern border in the first few months of Biden’s administration.
At some points facilities were pushed near 16 times their max capacities. In late March, the largest CBP facility for migrant children was at 1,640 per cent capacity with 3,200 minors housed in an area designed for only 250 people.
In March, these children were spending an average of 130 hours in custody of Customs and Border Patrol (CBP). Usually, CBP has a three-day legal timeframe to transfer unaccompanied alien children, or UACs, to HHS.
Mayorkas says they are now only being held for an average of 20 hours before transfer.
‘The progress we have made is dramatic,’ Mayorkas told reporters during a call Sunday.
HHS, according to figures from last week, is housing more than 22,500 unaccompanied children in shelters and emergency housing facilities.
Empty benches line the floors of the temporary processing facility in Donna, Texas on April 30
In March, 19,000 unaccompanied minor migrants were taken into federal custody – an all-time monthly high
CBP does not have full-time child welfare professionals to take on cases of children arriving alone at the border – HHS does have individuals trained to care for migrant minors and case managers focused on reunification.
The U.S. saw an all-time monthly high of UAC crossings with nearly 19,000 entered into custody in March, which overwhelmed the system set up to process minors arriving alone.
Biden’s administration has started setting up temporary facilities to help alleviate the border facilities and speed up processing unaccompanied minors.
Over the weekend, a group of migrant children started arriving at the Pomona Fairplex fairgrounds in southern California, which the Biden administration has set up as temporary housing for unaccompanied minors who arrived at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Officials say these children, ranging in age from 7 to 14, will remain at the site until they can be reunited with family or placed with sponsors.
The facility has a capacity to hold 2,500 children.
The new measure comes after the Long Beach Convention Center in Los Angeles also opened its doors to house unaccompanied minors.
‘These children as you know have endured abuse, persecution, deep poverty, and violence and they are simply seeking refuge,’ LA County Board of Supervisors Chair Hilda L. Solis said Thursday, according to KTLA.
The Pomona and Long Beach centers are meant as a temporary means to house the hundreds of minor migrants apprehended every day at the southern border without an adult accompanying them.
DHS announced Monday it will start reuniting this week migrant families that were separated under former President Donald Trump ‘s zero-tolerance policies against illegal immigration .
Several migrants arrived at the Pomona Fairplex fairgrounds in Los Angeles over the weekend after it opened its doors as a temporary housing for unaccompanied minors apprehended at the border
The Fairplex can house up to 2,500 minors
Mayorkas said in a call Sunday night that four families of the estimated 1,000 that remain separated will be reunited this week.
Two of the four include mothers – one Mexican and one Honduran – who were separated from their children in 2017, Mayorkas detailed without providing their identities.
He described the range of children from 3-years-old at the time of separation to ‘teenagers who have had to live without their parent during their most formative years.’
‘The Family Reunification Task Force has been working day and night, across the federal government and with counsel for the families and our foreign partners, to address the prior administration’s cruel separation of children from their parents,’ Mayorkas said in a statement announcing the family reunification.
‘Today is just the beginning,’ he added. ‘We are reuniting the first group of families, many more will follow, and we recognize the importance of providing these families with the stability and resources they need to heal.
Joe Biden’s administration will begin reuniting families this week who were separated when crossing the border under Donald Trump’s ‘zero tolerance’ immigration policies. Here an immigrant mother carries her children into the U.S. after crossing illegally from Mexico
Four of the 1,000 families who remain separated will be reunited this week as Biden’s Family Reunification Task Force charges forward with starting the process. Pictured: Migrant families overcrowded in a U.S. border facility in McAllen, Texas in June 2019
It is not immediately clear how DHS selected these four families to be reunited first and the agency has not yet responded to a request for more information from DailyMail.com.
The president promised during his campaign that he would reunite families separated after crossing the border and created a task force shortly after taking office dedicated to reunification.
Mayorkas, who heads the task force on reuniting separated families, told reporters Sunday: ‘Our team is dedicated to finding every family and giving them an opportunity to reunite and heal.’
‘We continue to work tirelessly to reunite many more children with their parents in the weeks and months ahead,’ he said during the call. ‘We have a lot of work still to do, but I am proud of the progress we have made and the reunifications that we have helped to achieve this week.’
The administration’s Family Reunification Task Force Executive Director Michelle Brane said the parents will return to the U.S. on humanitarian parole as authorities consider longer-term legal status.
Under Trump’s policies, families arriving at the border were separated into different facilities, upon which time most parents and adults were deported, while children were kept in federal custody.
Now, Biden will begin the process of allowing parents who were previously deported to return to the U.S. to be with their children.
Record numbers of illegal immigrants continue to cross into the U.S. as Biden promises no unaccompanied children will be turned away and said during his campaign he would accept all asylum-seekers. Here a smuggler paddles immigrants across the Rio Grande River on April 30
Starting in the summer of 2017, Trump implemented ‘zero-tolerance’ policies to easier criminally prosecute illegal immigrants, which led to more than 5,000 children being separated from their parents. The practices officially ended by court order in June 2018.
Brane believes there are still 1,000 families who are separated.
Despite the reunification process kicking off this week, the Biden administration is still facing its biggest issues at the southern border.
In recent months, Biden has seen record-numbers of illegal immigrants crossing as he vowed during his campaign all asylum-seekers would have a place in the U.S.
There are also tens of thousands of unaccompanied minor children in federal custody after public messaging from the White House promised not to turn away any children arriving at the border without an adult.
Migrants from Northern Triangle countries continue to take dangerous measures to get into the U.S.
Four people were killed and more than two dozen others were hospitalized Sunday after a boat capsized and broke apart in rough water just off the San Diego coast during a suspected human smuggling operation, authorities said.
Smugglers continue dangerous tactics to get immigrants to the U.S. Four people were killed and nearly two dozen others were hospitalized after a boat capsized Sunday just off the San Diego coast
The image above shows debris washing ashore just off the coast of San Diego on Sunday
Video footage shot by horrified beachgoers shows the boat tipping over in the water before breaking apart as it was battered by the waves and rocks.
Lifeguards, the U.S. Coast Guard and other agencies responded around 10 a.m. following reports of an overturned vessel in the waves near the rugged peninsula of Point Loma, according to the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department.
The original call was for a handful of people overboard but as rescuers arrived in boats and jet skis they quickly realized ‘it was going to be a bigger situation with more people,’ said San Diego Lifeguard Services Lt. Rick Romero.
‘There are people in the water, drowning, getting sucked out the rip current there,’ he said. ‘Once we arrived on scene, the boat had basically been broken apart. Conditions were pretty rough: 5 to 6 feet of surf, windy, cold.’