The politics of the border are front and center this week, with a visit from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a California Republican, to the border Monday to be followed by House votes on two immigration bills that address immigrants who were brought to the US as children illegally and undocumented farmworkers. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas will also testify on Capitol Hill on Wednesday.
The border surge Biden faces comes as the politics of immigration have only grown more polarized and contentious. Republicans -- many of whom followed in the footsteps of former President Donald Trump -- are quick to hold up the crisis as a failure in leadership by Biden, an example of what unfolds when Democrats take control of the executive branch and abandon plans to expand Trump's border wall.
Some Democrats have also been critical of Biden's handling of the matter, suggesting the detention of families and children in temporary facilities is no better than how Trump handled migrant children during his time in office.
"We're not going to cage children or divide families or rip children from mothers' arms," Democratic Rep. Vicente Gonzalez of Texas CNN's Abby Phillip on Sunday, "but we need an orderly process for migrants who qualify for asylum to hopefully ask for asylum in their home country or a neighboring country or maybe build a center in southern Mexico where they can be processed there."
More than 4,000 children
have been stuck in Border Patrol-run facilities, which are akin to jail-like conditions, for extended periods in the absence of enough shelter space to properly care for them.
Over the weekend, Mayorkas tapped the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help move the process along. The administration also decided to terminate a Trump-era agreement
that officials said discouraged sponsors, like parents or relatives, from coming forward to collect their children.
The sudden spike in children entering the US alone is being driven by the devastation left behind by two major hurricanes last year, the toll of the coronavirus pandemic and a perceived relaxation of enforcement.