House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) on Friday requested a meeting with President Biden to talk about the surge in migrants at the southern border.
The request comes as Biden sis ecretly sending members of his team “to travel to the border region in order to provide a full briefing to him on the government response to the influx of unaccompanied minors and an assessment of additional steps that can be taken to ensure the safety and care of these children,” White House spokesperson Vedant Patel said.
The Department of Homeland Security projects that 117,000 children and teenagers will arrive at the border unaccompanied this year. McCarthy pointed out that such a number would be a marked increase from the next-highest total of unaccompanied children arriving per year — 76,020 in 2019, according to Customs and Border Patrol.
McCarthy also pointed to a 113 percent increase in unaccompanied children and teenagers arriving and a 157 percent increase in border apprehensions overall.
“I feel compelled to express great concern with the manner in which your administration is approaching this crisis, but with hope that we can work together to solve it,” he wrote.
I just wrote to President Biden to request a meeting regarding the crisis developing on our southern border.
We must acknowledge the crisis, develop a plan, and in no uncertain terms, strongly discourage people from making the dangerous journey to cross illegally. pic.twitter.com/VsSGXdAOxw
— Kevin McCarthy (@GOPLeader) March 5, 2021
Asked if Biden would take a meeting with the House GOP leader, press secretary Jen Psaki said the president was focused on “digging out of the dismantled, inhumane immigration approach of the last administration” with a sweeping immigration reform bill. Still, she said he would “welcome the desire to engage on that.”
REPORTER: “Will President Biden acknowledge that there is a crisis” at the border?”@PressSec: “This administration’s focus is digging out of the dismantled and inhumane immigration approach of the last administration.” pic.twitter.com/VFacQvyFxS
— Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) March 5, 2021
The California Republican pointed to DHS Secretary Alex Mayorkas’s words to Latin American migrants.
“We are not saying don’t come. We are saying don’t come now, because we will be able to deliver a safe and orderly process for them as quickly as possible,” Mayorkas said Monday in a press briefing, adding:
They need to wait. If they come, if families come, if single adults come to the border, we are obligated to, in the service of public health, including the health of the very people thinking of coming, to impose travel restrictions under CDC guidelines and return them to Mexico — and we have done that.
So THIS is the message from DHS Secretary Mayorkas message to migrants:
“We are not saying, ‘don’t come.’ We are saying ‘don’t come now.'” pic.twitter.com/RobXnbdLr5
— Mark Bednar (@MarkBednar) March 1, 2021
McCarthy reminded Biden in the request that under the Obama administration in 2014, then-DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson said the following: “To the parents of these [unaccompanied] children I have one simple message: Sending your child to travel illegally into the United States is not the solution.” McCarthy wrote:
Secretary Johnson’s words represent a stark difference from the message coming from your administration. We must acknowledge the border crisis, develop a plan, and in no uncertain terms, strongly discourage individuals from Mexico and Central America from ever making the dangerous journey to our southern border. I look forward to your response and speaking with you in person about this situation.
The Biden administration has refrained from labeling the situation at the border as a crisis, but said they are working to manage it.