Originally Published in The New York Times
Glenn Thrush - April 5, 2021
President Biden, navigating the perilous politics resulting from the influx of migrants at the border with Mexico, on Monday released a video thanking newly naturalized citizens for having the “courage” to come to the United States.
“You all have one thing in common — courage,” Mr. Biden said. “The courage it takes to sacrifice and make this journey. The courage to leave your homes, your lives, your loved ones, and come to a nation that is more than just a place but rather an idea,” in which everyone “is created equal and deserves to be treated equally.”
A poll released Monday by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that 40 percent of Americans disapprove of the administration’s handling of the surge in children at the nation’s southern border, with only 24 percent approving. A third had no opinion.
Mr. Biden’s remarks — part of a message presidents often record to be played at the end of naturalization ceremonies — struck a different tone than former President Donald J. Trump’s emphasis on the “duties” of immigrants during a video he recorded during his first year in office.
“You have earned a new title equal to that of an America president, the title I’m most proud of — citizen,” Mr. Biden said.
His statement, while consistent with his comments in the past, comes at a time of increased pressure at the border and growing criticism from Republicans who claim Mr. Biden’s pledge to implement a more humane immigration policy has spurred a new wave of migration from Central America.
The authorities apprehended more than 170,000 migrants at the southwest border in March, the most in any month for at least 15 years and up nearly 70 percent from February, government documents obtained by The New York Times showed last week.
Thousands of children remained in detention facilities, and border agents released an increasing number of migrant families into the United States.
More than 18,700 unaccompanied children and teenagers were taken into custody last month after crossing the border, including at port entries, nearly double the roughly 9,450 minors detained in February, the documents show.