Sen. Joe Manchin called the rapidly spiraling situation at the US border a “crisis” — the first prominent Democrat to label it as such.
Speaking to CNN Monday evening, Manchin (D-WV) discussed the surge in migrants heading toward the border, saying, “Whatever message was sent — it was sure interpreted the wrong way.”
“It’s a crisis,” he continued. “Oh, it’s a crisis.”
In undoing former President Donald Trump’s border initiatives, President Biden unleashed a flood of Central American and Mexican illegal migrants at the US border, including thousands of unescorted children.
In his first month in office, Biden ended construction of Trump’s signature border wall and began to end the “Remain in Mexico” policy under which about 71,000 Central American asylum applicants were awaiting rulings in Mexico.
He issued an order affirming the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which gives work permits and protection from deportation to people brought illegally to the US as minors.
He has also proposed legislation that would create a path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the US.
Manchin, who backed the failed 2013 immigration reform push, said he would still back the president’s efforts.
Insisting that the border was not facing a crisis, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said earlier this month that the problems the agency faced should be blamed on the previous administration — despite data showing migrants flooding the border because they believe Biden will welcome them with open arms.
The administration’s response to immigration-related matters thus far has caused considerable outrage among Republicans.
Speaking to reporters Monday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki appeared to acknowledge escalating situation without calling it a crisis, instead saying, “clearly the numbers [of migrants at the border] are enormous. This is a big challenge, and it certainly is a reflection of using every level of the federal government to help address that.”
“I will say that FEMA is there to help ensure that the people who are at the border, who are coming across the border” have access to Health and Human Services shelters, she added.