WASHINGTON, D.C. — When answering questions about the surge in migrants and unaccompanied minors at the southern border, President Joe Biden told those hopefuls not to come to the United States.
In an exclusive interview, ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos pressed the president on the nation’s immigration issues.
EXCLUSIVE: @GStephanopoulos presses Pres. Biden on the border crisis.
"Do you have to say quite clearly, 'Don't come'?
— ABC News (@ABC) March 17, 2021
"A lot of the migrants coming in say they're coming in because you promised to make things better. It seems to be getting worse by the day, was it a mistake not to anticipate this surge?" Stephanopoulos asked.
Biden responded, saying there’s been an increase in migrants for the past few years.
"Well first of all, there was a surge the last two years, in ‘19 and '20, there was a surge as well," he said.
The Associated Press reports migration flows to the U.S. from Mexico are surging in a major way for the third time in seven years under both Republican and Democratic president, and for similar reasons.
Stephanopoulos went on to ask Biden if he has to clearly tell the migrants not to come to the U.S.
"Yes, I can say quite clearly, don't come, and while we’re in a process of getting set up,” said Biden. “Don't leave your town or city or community."
On the same day as Biden’s comments, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said the U.S. is “on pace to encounter more individuals on the southwest border than we have in the last 20 years.”
Mayorkas said the department is expelling most single adults and families, but not unaccompanied children. Because of this, CNN reports there’s a major spike in the number of these kids taken in, with around 4,000 migrant children in Border Control custody.
“A child who is under the age of 18 and not accompanied by their parent or legal guardian is considered under the law to be an unaccompanied child,” said Mayorkas. “We are encountering 6- and 7-year-old children, for example, arriving at our border without an adult. They are vulnerable children and we have ended the prior administration’s practice of expelling them.”
Mayorkas says the Border Patrol facilities have become crowded with children and an established 72-hour timeframe for the transfer of these kids to HHS is not always met.