President Biden on Tuesday pushed back against Republicans who claim that more migrants are crossing the border because he has rescinded the Trump administration's hardline immigration policies.
"There was a surge in the last two years," Biden told ABC News' George Stephanopoulos. "In '19 and '20, there was a surge as well." Biden said he recently heard that migrants are crossing the southern border "because they know I'm a nice guy. Here's the deal — they're not."
There is an influx in unaccompanied minors crossing the border, and due to a lack of space at shelters, many are being held for longer periods of time at Border Patrol facilities, which are not meant for children. Last week, Border Patrol encountered on average 565 unaccompanied minors every day at the border, NBC News reports, up from an average of 313 per day in February.
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Biden administration is immediately expelling asylum seekers, except in the case of unaccompanied minors. "Still intact families who are desperate for their children's safety are going to send their children to cross alone," immigration attorney Amy Maldonado told NBC News, especially when there are relatives in the United States able to care for the children. "I feel like a lot of this could be avoided if intact families were processed through the border and allowed to seek asylum," she added.
Biden told Stephanopoulos the U.S. is "sending back people" who cross the southern border, and discouraged migrants from starting the trek north. "I can say quite clearly: Don't come," he said. "We're in the process of getting set up, don't leave your town or city or community."