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Republican message on Biden border crisis draws ire from Democrats

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
US Customs and Border Protection officials detain a refugee group near the Paso del Norte International Bridge in El Paso, Texas, US. (Photo by The Texas Tribune)

Democrats in the US Congress have blasted Republicans as they stepped up attacks on President Joe Biden over a surge of asylum seekers and “humanitarian crisis” at the US-Mexico border.

The Democrats censured the Republicans for their own immigration record and opposing the COVID relief program.

A dozen Republicans visited border facilities in El Paso, Texas, blaming Biden for the suffering of migrants arriving at the border and warning about health and security risks to the United States.

Biden vowed to unwind some of former president Donald Trump’s immigration policies when he assumed office on Jan. 20.

The President ordered the reunification of migrant children with their families, halted construction of the border wall and called for reviews of legal immigration programs terminated by Trump.

The reversal of Trump’s policies stoked an  influx of migrants from Central and Southern America, with large numbers of asylum seeking unaccompanied children massing on the US border from Mexico.

The Biden administration has been sharply criticized for using notorious Trump-era detainment facilities in Texas to house migrant children. Democrats had used the issue of detainment facilities to accuse Trump of putting “kids in cages.”

As of Friday, the US Department of Health and Human Services’ refugee office had about 8,800 unaccompanied children in custody.

Republicans in both the House and Senate say the Biden administration sparked the surge of migrants by promising to loosen Trump policies.

They turned to the border security issue, which strongly appeals to their base supporters, as Democrats talked up Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief measure, which passed Congress without a single Republican vote.

Kevin McCarthy, the House of Representatives minority leader said in El Paso that, “I came down here because I heard of the crisis. It’s more than a crisis. This is a human heartbreak.”

“It didn’t have to happen. This crisis is created by the presidential policies of this new administration.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had earlier targeted the California Republican as part of a new Democratic messaging campaign aimed at promoting the benefits of the COVID-19 legislation.

“McCarthy is desperately trying to distract Americans from the fact that every single House Republican voted to block a relief bill that delivers vaccines in arms, money in pockets, children back in school safely and people back in jobs,” Pelosi’s office said in a statement.

Democratic Representative Veronica Escobar, whose district includes El Paso, said McCarthy and his colleagues used the border as a political prop to deliver a dated, xenophobic message about immigrants.

“We saw my Republican colleagues stoke fear and anger toward immigrants, fueling that xenophobia. You know, the whole immigrants-bringing-diseases-into-our-country kind of thing,” she said.

The White House rejected Republican charges that Biden was not taking the border issue seriously and laid the blame for the current surge at the feet of Trump.

“We recognize this is a big problem. The last administration left us a dismantled and unworkable system. And like any other problem, we are going to do everything we can to solve it,” White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters.

Pelosi also blamed Trump for the border refugee crisis, saying Trump handed Biden a “broken system.”

Pelosi said, “What the (Biden) administration has inherited is a broken system at the border, and they are working to correct that in the children's interest.” She added, "This is a humanitarian challenge to all of us."

She told reporters after the interview that, “this is a humanitarian crisis,” a label the Biden administration has avoided using.

Trump has accused Biden of inspiring a "spiraling tsunami" at the southern US border, saying the situation is “out of control.”

“A mass incursion into the country by people who should not be here is happening on an hourly basis, getting worse by the minute. Many have criminal records, and many others have and are spreading COVID,” Trump said last week.

“Interior enforcement has been shut down — criminals that were once promptly removed by our Administration are now being released back onto the street to commit heinous and violent crimes,” the former US president added.

Trump said the Biden administration has “given the smugglers and traffickers effective control of our border,” predicting that the US border crisis would get worse.

 


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