Pelosi says unaccompanied children arriving at U.S.-Mexico border is a ‘humanitarian crisis’


Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) speaks to the media during a briefing on Capitol Hill in Washington, March 11, 2021.

Joshua Roberts | Reuters

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., on Sunday said that the influx of unaccompanied children arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border was a “humanitarian crisis” and the result of the policies of former President Donald Trump.

Pelosi’s remarks came one day after Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas announced that the Federal Emergency Management Agency will begin sheltering and transferring children who arrive at the southern border.

“The Biden administration is trying to fix the broken system that was left to them by the Trump administration,” Pelosi told reporters Sunday. “The Biden administration will have a system, based on doing the best possible job, understanding this is a humanitarian crisis.”

President Joe Biden‘s administration has stopped short of calling the situation on the border a crisis.

On his first day in office, Biden terminated Trump’s declaration of an “emergency” at the southern border, which the former president had used as a legal mechanism to divert extra funds toward the construction of a wall.

During a press briefing at the White House earlier this month, Mayorkas told reporters that he did not believe the situation on the border was a crisis.

“The answer is no,” the DHS secretary said. “I think there is a challenge at the border that we are managing, and we have our resources dedicated to managing it.”

Biden campaigned on a wholesale reversal of Trump’s hardline immigration policies, but a swelling number of children in Customs and Border Protection custody has posed a challenge for the nascent administration.

More than 3,700 children were in CBP custody as of last week, CNN reported, a record number, with about 450 being apprehended every day. Many of those children are being held in facilities that resemble jails, according to the outlet.

The Trump administration faced scrutiny for its treatment of children who attempted to cross into the U.S. via Mexico.

Republicans have sought to portray Democrats as weak on immigration. On Monday, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., is expected to travel with a delegation of Republicans to the southern border, Axios reported.

McCarthy wrote a letter to Biden on March 5 in which he said he felt “compelled to express great concern with the manner in which your administration is approaching this crisis” and added that he had “hope that we can work together to solve it.”

Earlier on Sunday, Pelosi said on ABC’s “This Week” that the surge in unaccompanied children arriving at the border was “a humanitarian challenge to all of us.”

“What the administration has inherited is a broken system at the border, and they are working to correct that in the children’s interest,” Pelosi said.

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