President Joe Biden’s administration was “absolutely caught off guard” by the number of people who have “come to the border,” Mark Morgan, the former head of Customs and Border Protection, told The Daily Caller.
The Washington Post reports about 4,000 people were apprehended at the border on multiple days in the first week of March, with about 350 unaccompanied minors crossing each day.
“We were sounding the alarm right after the election when the numbers started going up,” the former acting CBP commissioner told the Daily Caller News Foundation in an interview Tuesday, adding “no one was listening” at the Department of Health and Human Services and the Office of Refugee Resettlement “was already complaining” unaccompanied children at the border “were testing at an 11% positive rate for COVID.”
Morgan said the Biden administration was “absolutely caught off guard by the numbers that have come to the border as fast as they are.”
“I think you’re going to see the unaccompanied minor numbers well in excess of 9,000 in February,” he said. “We’re right back where we were at the height of the crisis in 2019. In February, I think the numbers are going to be close to, if not over, 100,000 in a month. They’re getting 5,000 a day, over 400 [unaccompanied children] a day. Under anyone’s standards those are crisis-level numbers.”
Immigration analyst Theresa Cardinal Brown with the Bipartisan Policy Center told the Post the Biden administration considers the influx of people at the border to be a logistical and operational problem, “but whether they see it as a political problem is a different question.”
“Biden ran on being the anti-Trump," she said. "He made clear that an emphasis on deterrence was not what he was going to do, and he got elected. So I think using enforcement as a primary means of managing what is happening at the border is not what he wants to do.”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Friday that the Biden team is simply acting with “humanity and respect.”
“Obviously, we’re going to have more kids crossing into the country since we’ve been letting more children stay and the last administration inhumanely kicked them out," she said. "We’re going to tread our own path forward, and that includes treating minors with humanity and respect.”
Ron Vitiello, the former acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement in the Trump Administration, told the Post the surge probably “gets a lot worse before it gets better.”
“You have thousands of people in custody at locations built for hundreds, but everyone has to be processed,” Vitiello said. “You can’t send kids to shelters if the kids haven’t been booked in. You can’t release families until they are booked in, so they can have their day in court.”
He described it as “a physics problem.”
Said Vitiello: “You only have so many agents and work stations, and those lines are going to get really long.”
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