The Biden administration is considering flying migrants who illegally cross the US-Mexico border to near the US-Canada border for processing as a way to ease pressure on overwhelmed facilities in Texas, according to a new report.
The tactic is under consideration amid a surge in border crossings that critics blame on President Biden’s policies and reform legislation that would create a path to citizenship for most illegal immigrants.
Two Department of Homeland Security officials told the Washington Post that the administration is considering air lifts to the northern border due to large numbers of unaccompanied children and families crossing in the south.
Officials told the Washington Post that on Friday morning 1,000 people who were either unaccompanied minors or in family units crossed the Rio Grande into Texas, and that another 1,000 still were awaiting processing from Thursday night.
Undocumented immigrants walk along the U.S.-Mexico border wall.John Moore/Getty Images
The Biden administration has been using a Trump-era COVID-19 policy to expel most single adults, but has said that all unaccompanied children will be admitted at least temporarily and that families only will be expelled if Mexico has room to house them.
The new figures suggest an increasing crisis.
Along the length of the US-Mexico border in February, there were 29,792 children detained without their parents — about five times more than in January — of whom 2,942 were under age 12, according to US Customs and Border Protection.
U.S. Border Patrol agents detain undocumented immigrants next to the U.S.-Mexico border fence after the women crossed the Rio Grande into El Paso.John Moore/Getty Images
The overall number of people apprehended along the Mexican border increased to more than 100,000 in February, a 28 percent jump from January.
Democratic leaders on Friday insisted that the border situation was “under control” as Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas traveled to the southern border to inspect facilities. Mayorkas’ trip was closed to the press.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said that “I think that the administration is pulling this thing under control,” while also acknowledging that the Biden administration has changed some policies, such as no longer expelling minors.
“In the spring, more people do come, so there will be more as there are now,” Pelosi said at a Friday press conference.
“The Biden administration has this under control. It will take some — it is change and it will take some time. But it is values-based, humanitarian in its aspects and pragmatic with a plan to get things done.”
On Thursday, the House of Representatives passed bills that would create a path to citizenship for up to half of the estimated illegal immigrants in the US, including farmworkers and children who arrived as minors. Many Republicans said the bills create new “pull” factors for migration.
Last month, Biden terminated Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” policy that required Central American asylum seekers to stay in Mexico while US courts reviewed their claims.
Biden halted construction of his predecessor’s Mexico border wall and issued an order affirming the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which gives work permits and protection from deportation to people brought illegally to the US as minors
A United States flag flies at the U.S.-Mexico border.John Moore/Getty Images
Biden also proposed legislation to create a path to citizenship for nearly all of the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the US. On Thursday, Biden tweeted that he wanted Congress to pass legislation to that would “legalize the undocumented population in the United States.”