Republicans have blamed a surge in migration at the U.S.–Mexico border squarely on President Joe Biden and his policies, but though the situation is only worsening by the week, the White House has long been averse to using the term “crisis” to describe it — that is, until this weekend.
According to Breitbart, Biden finally flipped his tune on the “crisis” at the border in a talk with reporters Saturday following a round of golf near his home in Delaware.
The sudden reversal by Biden was especially notable given that others in his administration have been hesitant to use the word “crisis” to describe the migrant surge; for weeks, the likes of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki have stuck to terms like “challenge” and “problem,” as Breitbart notes.
“Working on the crisis”
The unexpected admission from Biden came in response to questioning from reporters over his recent decision not to increase the government’s annual cap on refugee admissions, despite previously promising to do so.
Former President Donald Trump had set the cap of 15,000 annually, and in an executive order Friday, Biden left that threshold intact. Biden had previously suggested upping the limit to 125,000, and his secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, had proposed raising it to 62,000, Fox News reported.
Pressed by reporters, Biden vowed that his administration is “going to increase the number.”
“The problem was that the refugee part was working on the crisis that ended up on the border with young people,” the president explained, according to Breitbart.
“We couldn’t do two things at once. But now we are going to increase the number,” Biden said, as seen in video published by The Washington Post.
White House tries to save face
The issue of Biden’s failure to raise the refugee cap apparently caused so much “confusion” that White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was forced to put out a statement Friday indicating that the president is poised “to set a final, increased refugee cap for the remainder of this fiscal year by May 15.”
Pressed by reporters at a briefing earlier Friday, Psaki admitted that the border “situation” played a role in Biden’s decision to leave things as-is.
“Is it true that President Biden doesn’t want to raise the refugee cap while the situation at the border is like it is right now?” one journalist asked, according to a transcript from the White House. Psaki replied:
I would say that it is a factor. […] We have to ensure that there is capacity and ability to manage both.