President Joe Biden said during his first press conference on Thursday that Mexico is partly responsible for the illegal immigrant crisis at the United States’ southern border.
When asked why some families are not being sent back across the U.S.-Mexico border, Biden said, “Because Mexico is refusing to take them back. They’re saying they won’t take them back. Not all of them. We’re in negotiations with the president of Mexico. I think we’re going to see that change. They should all be going back.”
Earlier this week, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador blamed the Biden administration’s immigration policies for the surge of migrants making their way across the border.
“Expectations were created that with the Government of President Biden there would be a better treatment of migrants,” Lopez Obrador said at a press conference. “And this has caused Central American migrants, and also from our country, wanting to cross the border thinking that it is easier to do so.”
Over the weekend, CBS News reported that over 15,000 unaccompanied illegal immigrant minors are currently being housed in federal facilities, with thousands being held in facilities well beyond the three-day legal limit.
Over 9,400 unaccompanied minors entered the United States in February, breaking the month’s previous record.
Despite the surge of illegal immigrant children overwhelming border facilities, Biden reiterated that his administration would not leave children “sitting there on the other side of the Rio Grande.”
“The vast majority of people under the age of 18 coming to the United States come with a telephone number on a wrist band. Or come with a telephone number in their pocket in the United States. A mother. A father. A close relative. A grandmom or a grandpop,” Biden said. “What’s happening before is it’s taking literally weeks and weeks and maybe even months before anybody picks up the phone and call to see if there really was someone there.”
According to Biden, the administration has set up a system where a phone call is made within 24 hours of a child’s arrival, including a verification system to ensure the individual on the other end of the call is actually a close relative rather than a human trafficker.
Additionally, the Biden administration’s Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has asked to use Space Command headquarters to temporarily house unaccompanied minors arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border, Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby confirmed Wednesday. The Pentagon already approved the use of two military bases in Texas.
Officials are considering Peterson AFB in Colorado Springs, Colo.– home to NORAD and U.S. Space Command – to house an undisclosed number of unaccompanied illegal immigrant children.
HHS also asked to use an empty dormitory at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, as well as some land at Fort Bliss. DOD officially granted that request on Wednesday, and Biden said 5,000 beds would be established at Fort Bliss.