A surge at the U.S.-Mexico border has led to at least three high-profile incidents that underscore the severity of the crisis as the Biden administration continues to take heat from both sides of the aisle.
Those in President Biden’s orbit admitted the situation was an “emergency” on Friday, but other top officials, such as Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, called the influx a “challenge” rather than a crisis.
Customs and Border Protection on Wednesday reported that agents witnessed 100,000 attempted illegal crossings in the month of February, compared to 78,000 who tried to do the same in January. Drug seizures were up 50%, and an unprecedented 117,000 unaccompanied migrant children are expected to enter the United States by the end of the year.
On average, these solo minors are spending 37 days in U.S. care, and the administration acknowledged that it couldn’t keep up with the flurry of illegal immigration.
“We are not in a place where we’re going to be able to meet the demand that we are seeing,” an official said. “Every day, we are bringing new beds online, but it takes a lot of time, unfortunately, in terms of our licensed care-provider network. We are aggressively adding hundreds of beds by the week to our care-provider network.”
The chaos at the border has led to deaths, arrests, and an increase in coronavirus cases.
Over 100 migrants apprehended in three trucks in less than one day
On Wednesday, CBP authorities in Laredo, Texas, nabbed over 111 migrants, who were hiding in three trucks, in less than 24 hours. Agents grabbed 44 individuals from a tractor-trailer following a canine search. Minutes later, another 43 migrants were removed from a tanker truck, and on Tuesday, a third rig was found to be harboring 24 people.
CBP identified the perpetrators as possible human smugglers and said that the people in custody hailed from “Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico.” Law enforcement also noted that none of the suspected illegal immigrants were wearing masks or other protective gear.
The incident drew ire from Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who tweeted, “This is a crisis,” in response to the report.
Dozens released from border custody despite being tested positive for COVID-19
A total of 108 migrants who tested positive for the coronavirus were set free by U.S. Border Patrol in Brownsville, Texas, since January, city officials revealed on March 3. The number represents 6.3% of all migrants who have passed through the station after being released there by Border Patrol since rapid-testing started on Jan. 25.
The development led Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to criticize the Biden administration for “recklessly releasing hundreds of illegal immigrants who have COVID into” his communities. The governor’s comments resulted in a spat after White House press secretary Jen Psaki claimed that he “declined” money provided by the federal government to pay for COVID-19 testing for illegal immigrants.
“The governor has complained about testing at the border,” Psaki said in a Sunday interview with MSNBC. “He’s shared details that are not fact-based, but to be crystal clear here, FEMA, DHS has worked with local authorities, has worked with local NGOs [nongovernmental organizations] to come up with a plan that would cover 100% of testing costs for migrants who cross the border.”
“He has declined that funding,” she continued. “That is something that doesn’t help the people of Texas, and we’re certainly hopeful that he’ll reconsider.”
Abbott, who has continued to maintain that the testing responsibility should come from the federal government, was identified as a hindrance to Biden’s agenda in a Friday call with administration officials.
Multiple migrants dead after violent car collision on smuggling route
A total of 13 migrants died on March 2 while riding in an SUV, which was packed to the brim with 25 people, after the vehicle veered in front of a semitruck in Imperial, California. A hole in a border wall led 44 people to breach U.S. soil, of which at least 19 were arrested by CBP authorities.
“We pray for the accident victims and their families during this difficult time,” said El Centro sector chief patrol agent Gregory Bovino. “Initial investigation into the origins of the vehicles indicate a potential nexus to the aforementioned breach in the border wall. Human smugglers have proven time and again they have little regard for human life. Those who may be contemplating crossing the border illegally should pause to think of the dangers that all too often end in tragedy, tragedies our Border Patrol Agents and first responders are unfortunately very familiar with.”
Source: Washington Examiner: Three tragic incidents that underscore the severity of the border crisis