Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Monday defended the Biden administration's handling of unaccompanied migrant children at the border against growing criticism, saying he hopes to give families separated under President Donald Trump the option to reunite in the US while blaming the prior administration for having "gutted" the immigration system.
"I learned that we did not have the facilities available or equipped to administer the humanitarian laws that our Congress passed years ago", Mayorkas said in his first appearance at a White House briefing.
"You just can't say, "Yeah, yeah, let everybody in" - because then we're affected down there at the border", Cuellar told the news outlet.
The Biden administration's bungled implementation of new immigration polices and rollback of Trump-era policies have led to a crisis at the country's southern border, as scores of new migrants are flooding into the USA expecting lenient treatment.
"It is hard and it will take time, but rest assured, we are going to get it done", Mayorkas said, while adding that it is "important to understand what we have inherited, because it defines the situation of how it now stands".
Reuniting the families is one of the Biden administration's top priorities, something Mayorkas described as a "moral imperative". "Quite frankly, the entire system was gutted", Mayorkas alleged.
Trump said that wind and solar power are far more expensive than natural gas, not necessarily environmentally friendly, and lack the capacity to adequately fuel USA factories. In addition, they tore down the Central American minors program that allowed children to access laws and protection without having to take the perilous journey north.
Monday on "CNN Newsroom", Rep. Vicente Gonzalez (D-TX) criticized President Joe Biden's immigration policy amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, calling it "catastrophic" for the Democratic Party, the United States and his district. "We have, though, already begun". I still have over a thousand border patrol officers, 500 custom agents, and a lot of front-line workers who still haven't been vaccinated who are dealing with this population when they're coming.
"What we're seeing now at the border is the immediate result of the dismantlement of the system. I think asylum-seekers should be able to ask for asylum and be processed in their home country or a neighboring country, and we shouldn't have a policy in place that impulses people to make this 2,000-mile trek where cartels and human traffickers are enriching themselves", Gonzalez concluded.
Advocates representing families who have been separated applauded the decision, but said they wanted more information.