California’s McCarthy and other Republicans slam Biden immigration policies at border

Asylum seekers in Tijuana wait for food
A woman waits for food at a makeshift camp for asylum seekers in Tijuana on March 12.
(Associated Press )

House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy of California and a dozen of his colleagues denounced the Biden administration’s handling of immigration at the southwest border and called for congressional action during a visit Monday to Texas.

The 13-person Republican congressional delegation traveled to El Paso following higher numbers of crossings at the U.S.-Mexico border, including thousands of migrant children arriving without their parents.

At a news conference, McCarthy framed the increases at the border as a “crisis,” as congressional Republicans have for weeks. “This crisis is created by the presidential policies of this new administration,” McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) said.

McCarthy complained that Biden had not responded to a letter he sent this month requesting a meeting to discuss recent migration trends. If Biden does not reverse his immigration policies, “it’s going to take congressional action to do it, and that’s why we’re here,” he added.

The event also featured remarks from Republicans who represent border-area districts and who serve on Homeland Security committees. Rep. Tony Gonzales of Texas told reporters that U.S. Border Patrol agents “are doing God’s work keeping our border safe.”


Ahead of Monday’s news conference, Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas), the former chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, took to Twitter, where he called concerns by McCarthy and other Republicans for migrant children “hollow and cynical” given their past support for the Trump administration’s immigration policies.

“With McCarthy and Republican politicians at the border, it’s important to remember they supported family separations and forcing families to remain in refugee camps.... They do not support solutions for humanitarian relief,” Castro tweeted.

The lawmakers’ remarks came two days after Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas announced that he had directed the Federal Emergency Management Agency to step in and help border officials safely process and transfer migrant children who cross the border without their parents.

The Biden administration has seen an increasing number of migrant children entering the U.S., which has strained border facilities and capacity at Health and Human Services, the department that takes custody of unaccompanied migrant minors after they are picked up by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

A hospital said an immigrant’s hands may be amputated after he was found in the winter storm. Border Patrol told him he’d be sent back home, but he is now expected to stay in the U.S.

Border agents recorded more than 100,000 border crossings in February, including 9,457 unaccompanied migrant children, according to the most recent data from U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The numbers reflect a significant jump compared with last year, but are still lower than those seen by border agents in spring 2019.

In response, the administration has reopened an influx shelter in Texas to house teenagers who enter the U.S. without their parents, and officials have repeatedly made public statements urging migrants not to make the journey to the U.S.-Mexico border.

“We are challenged at the border,” Mayorkas has said. “The men and women at the Department of Homeland Security are meeting that challenge.”

Yesenia Magali Melendrez Cardona told her father she wanted to follow in his footsteps in the U.S. On Tuesday, she was among those killed in a gruesome crash near the U.S.-Mexico border.

Following news reports that migrant children have been held in short-term detention facilities along the border beyond the 72-hour legal limit, DHS said Saturday that the department is “working around the clock” to move children from Customs and Border Patrol custody to Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement.

“A Border Patrol facility is no place for a child,” Mayorkas said in a statement announcing the FEMA aid. “We are working in partnership with HHS to address the needs of unaccompanied children, which is made only more difficult given the protocols and restrictions required to protect the public health and the health of the children themselves.”