WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden on Sunday said he planned to visit the border with Mexico “at some point” and his administration was working to ensure that potential migrants applied for asylum in their home countries.
Biden, who took office on Jan. 20, has faced criticism from Republicans for reversing some of the hardline policies of his predecessor, Donald Trump, which they argue has led to increased numbers of migrants arriving at the border.
His administration is wrestling with a growing humanitarian crisis at the border, where the spike in the number of migrants fleeing violence, natural disasters and economic hardship in Central America is testing the Democratic president’s commitment to a more humane immigration policy.
Biden addressed the issue as he returned to the White House from the Camp David presidential retreat and said he would visit the border region at some point, although he gave no specific timetable.
Asked what more could be done to convince migrant families to stop coming across the border, Biden told reporters: “A lot more, we are in the process of doing it now, including making sure we re-establish what existed before – which is they can stay in place and make their case from their home countries.”
The U.S. government has also ramped up “more aggressive” messaging – in English and Spanish – to persuade migrants to not to come to the United States.
U.S. officials are struggling to house and process an increasing number of unaccompanied children, many of whom have been stuck in jail-like border stations for days while they await placement in government-run shelters.
Officials now plan to house some migrant families in hotels under a new program managed by nonprofit organizations, Reuters reported on Saturday, in a departure from the use of for-profit detention centers that have been criticized by Democrats and health experts.
Trump issued a statement on Sunday blasting Biden’s policy shift and urging him to complete Trump’s signature border wall.
(Reporting by Andrea Shalal and Joel Schectman; Editing by Daniel Wallis)