WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — As more and more migrants head toward the southern border, the Biden administration is hitting the airwaves to tell those seeking refuge not to come — a least not right now.
Republicans say that’s not enough. They insist it’s a crisis. Democrats are reluctant to use that term, but they agree the situation is growing worse.
U.S. Department of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas said on ABC’s “This Week” that the border is closed right now and warned those making the journey that most asylum seekers are being turned away.
He said the nation is on pace to have the greatest migrant surge in 20 years. Blaming it on harmful policies from the Trump administration, he said his agency is working to tackle the problem.
“We know how to address it. We have a plan. We are executing on our plan,” Mayorkas said.
But Republicans say the problem is that President Joe Biden sent out a welcome message.
“They have created a humanitarian crisis down here at this border,” Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, told “This Week.” “The reason (migrants) are coming is he says words do matter, and they do. … The messaging is: If you want to come, you can stay.”
He said he hasn’t seen a plan to deal with the surge.
“The only people who benefit from this are the cartels,” Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., said.
Hawley wants Mayorkas to testify before the Senate to explain recent policy changes.
“They have created this situation. They’ve got to do something about it. It begins at the top,” Hawley said.
On Sunday, Biden said he would go to the border “at some point.” Asked whether he would like to see for himself what’s happening in U.S. Customs and Border Protection holding facilities, he responded “I know what’s going in those facilities.”
He said his administration is focused on helping migrants make their cases for asylum.
The administration has refused to allow press access to the holding facilities, citing pandemic mitigation protocols.