Rep. Veronica Escobar on Sunday pushed back on claims that the Biden administration’s rollbacks of Trump-era immigration policies have caused a surge in undocumented migrants at the Southern border, saying such an argument “obscures the bigger picture.”
“This is not something that happened as a result of Joe Biden becoming president,” the Texas Democrat said on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday. “We saw the increases dating back almost a year, and this was during the Trump administration.”
The number of migrant children detained at the border has tripled in recent weeks; host Jake Tapper pointed out that more than 4,000 children are currently in Border Patrol custody.
“What we are seeing today is the consequence of four years of dismantling every system in place to address this with humanity and compassion,” Escobar said. She cited administration officials at Health and Human Services and other departments working to reduce the number of days children are detained before being moved to licensed facilities reunited with their families.
Biden rolled back a number of Trump-era immigration policies, including the “Remain in Mexico” policy that advocates say gutted the nation’s asylum system and the “zero tolerance” policy of separating families at the border.
Critics say Biden, who pledged a more humane approach to migrants than his predecessor, should have more forcefully discouraged migration from Central American countries. Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) on “Fox News Sunday” blasted the Biden administration’s immigration policies, saying “empirically, [they’re] entirely” responsible for the surge in unaccompanied minors at the southern border.
In his interview with Escobar, Tapper pointed out a comment from Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador earlier this month that migrants see Biden as the “migrant president, and so many feel they’re going to reach the United States.”
“Is there not a degree to which, whatever messages have been sent from the Biden administration, it is encouraging what is happening and is encouraging these kids to come, creating this tragedy?” Tapper asked.
“As I mentioned in April of 2020, under the harshest of conditions, a Trump administration and Covid, we still saw people arriving at our front door,” Escobar said. “Even the president of Mexico, that comment, obscures what we have to do, which is what I believe President Biden finally will achieve — which is address the root causes of migration. We’re going to be having this conversation year in and year out until we have leaders in this hemisphere who are willing to work together.”
Escobar encouraged López Obrador and other Northern Hemisphere presidents to coordinate on immigration issues.
“This is a challenge that we’ve been seeing for several years. It’s not going away — until we fix it,” Escobar said.