President Donald Trump has again criticized the Biden administration’s handling of the crisis at the U.S. southern border after Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas spent Sunday morning defending his handling of the situation in a slew of television interviews.
Mayorkas appeared on multiple programs across major news networks on Sunday to address questions about the burgeoning crisis that saw an influx of unaccompanied children with numbers reaching new highs not seen since the last crisis in 2019. He sought to shift the blame of the crisis on the Trump administration, saying that the previous government had “dismantled the orderly, humane, and efficient way of allowing children to make their claims under United States law in their own country,” according to his interview with NBC.
Trump appeared to respond to Mayorkas’s comments in a statement sent via email later on Sunday, where he reiterated his criticism that the Biden administration had transformed “national triumph into a national disaster” in a span of a few weeks of taking office.
“We proudly handed the Biden Administration the most secure border in history. All they had to do was keep this smooth-running system on autopilot. Instead, in the span of a just few weeks, the Biden Administration has turned a national triumph into a national disaster. They are in way over their heads and taking on water fast,” Trump said in his statement.
Trump also characterized Mayorkas’s remarks on Sunday as “pathetic,” “clueless,” and a “national disgrace,” while raising concerns over the administration’s decision to revive the “catch-and-release” policy by overturning most of Trump’s immigration policies, including the former president’s Migrant Protection Protocols, or more commonly known as “Remain in Mexico.” Under the “catch-and-release” policy, asylum seekers are released into the interior of the country as they await a court hearing, often never to be seen again.
“Even someone of Mayorkas’ limited abilities should understand that if you provide Catch-and-Release to the world’s illegal aliens then the whole world will come,” Trump wrote.
The former president, who is known for his hardline stance on immigration and his support for border agents and ICE officers, also called for an “immediate congressional investigation” over reports that the Biden administration is limiting the amount of information of what border patrol agents can share with the media about the ongoing crisis, which has been unofficially dubbed a “gag order.”
“The Mayorkas Gag Order on our Nation’s heroic border agents and ICE officers should be the subject of an immediate congressional investigation. But it’s clear they are engaged in a huge cover-up to hide just how bad things truly are. The only way to end the Biden Border Crisis is for them to admit their total failure and adopt the profoundly effective, proven Trump policies,” Trump wrote.
Mayorkas on Sunday denied allegations that a gag order is in place after he was pressed by NBC’s “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd to address the issue.
“Right now, we have no access to, or photos of, the conditions in the facilities. There have been no ride alongs with agents, all inquiries are routed through Washington, there have been strict controls on sharing data, local border patrol folks feel like they can’t even talk to our folks down there. Is there a gag order?” Todd asked.
“There is not. That is unequivocally false, Chuck. Let’s be clear here. We are in the midst of a pandemic. We are, because of the extraordinary leadership of the president, climbing out of it more rapidly than ever before. But we are still in the midst of the pandemic,” Mayorkas responded.
Biden, who vowed to reverse his predecessor’s immigration policies during his campaign, has refused to call the influx of migrants at the border a “crisis.” But the White House has acknowledged the spike as being “a big problem” and an “enormous challenge” for the administration.
Mayorkas reiterated Biden’s plea to Central American migrants telling them to “don’t come over.”
“The message is quite clear, do not come. The border is closed, the border is secure,” Mayorkas said during an ABC interview on Sunday.
The number of encounters at the southwest border has been rising steadily over the last few months. Between October 2020 and January 2021, the number of enforcement encounters was 296,259—a 79.6 percent increase from 164,932 for the same period a year earlier, according to CBP data.
The number of family units (19,246) and unaccompanied minors (9,457) crossing illegally rose significantly in February, compared to 7,294 family units and 5,585 unaccompanied minors in January, and 4,404 family units and 4,993 unaccompanied minors in December 2020.
The Biden administration said on March 13 that it had directed the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to assist at the U.S. southwest border in response to the arrival of “record numbers” of illegal immigrants, including unaccompanied minors.
The emergency management agency will support the government effort over the next 90 days to receive, shelter, and transfer unaccompanied children who cross the border illegally, the DHS said. FEMA is an agency of the department.