Speaking on CNN’s “New Day” Thursday, the Democratic senator was asked if it is “fair” to call the border situation a “crisis.”
“It’s approaching a crisis,” he responded.
Merkley continued to note there is a surge of migrant children and more than half of them “were stranded for months” in Mexico under the Trump administration.
“Now that the border’s not closed, they are knocking on our door,” he continued.
Check out Merkley’s comments below:
“It’s approaching a crisis,” Sen. Jeff Merkley says as the number of unaccompanied migrant children in US Border Patrol facilities reached record highs this week.https://t.co/SmivOCgKvF pic.twitter.com/LBnYm0uLLt
— New Day (@NewDay) March 11, 2021
The Democratic senator was pressed on if Biden administration’s “more humane” immigration policies are having “unintended consequences” of spiking the numbers of migrants.
He said he thought it was “absolutely fair to say it is seen as an opportunity” by the migrant families who are “stranding across the border,” adding, “The question is is it also going to be seen that way by children throughout Central America.”
As of Monday, over 3,200 migrant children were stuck in Border Patrol facilities, CBS News reports. Nearly half were being held past the three-day legal limit.
Roberta Jacobson, the Biden administration coordinator for the country’s southern border, said during Wednesday’s press briefing, “We’ve seen surges before. Surges tend to respond to hope, and there was a significant hope for a more humane policy after four years of pent-up demand.”
She continued, “There was a significant hope…I don’t know if I would call that a coincidence. But I certainly think that the idea that a more humane policy would be in place may have driven people to make that decision, but perhaps, more importantly, it definitely drove smugglers to express disinformation, to spread disinformation about what was now possible.”
Jacobson also declared, “The border is not open.”
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki shared earlier this week that the administration is looking for “additional facilities where we can safely house children and ensure they have access to all of these resources.”
A recent report by CNN showed that there were over 100,000 migrants encountered at the southern border over the past four weeks, ending March 3. This is the highest level for the same time frame in five years.
The Biden administration has sought to rollback Trump-era immigration policies.
Psaki was asked during Wednesday’s press briefing if the Biden administration has a “messaging problem” on immigration, to which she responded, “Well, I would say that in the last administration, we had a morality problem. Children were being pulled from the arms of their parents, and kids were being sent back on a treacherous journey.”
“That’s not the approach of this administration,” she added. “So, certainly, we understand that means there will be more kids who are crossing the border. We made a policy decision that that was the right, humane step to take.”
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