The White House walked back President Joe Biden’s comments calling the surge of migration at the border a “crisis” on Monday, saying there is “no change in position.”
Biden originally called the unprecedented surge a “crisis” during remarks Saturday as he announced his administration’s decision to raise the refugee cap.
“We’re going to increase the number [of refugees allowed into the country]. The problem was that the refugee part was working on the crisis that ended up on the border with young people,” Biden said at the time. “We couldn’t do two things at once. But now we are going to increase the number.” (RELATED: White House Backtracks After Top Dems Slam Biden’s Decision To Keep Trump’s Refugee Caps In Place)
President Biden, after finishing golf, says refugee cap was linked to the “crisis that ended up on the border with young people.”
“We couldn’t do two things at once. And now we are going to increase the number” pic.twitter.com/LrU2xQeSCR
— Jonathan Lemire (@JonLemire) April 17, 2021
The White House now says Biden was referring to the situations in migrants’ countries of origin as a “crisis,” not their mass arrival at the southern border in recent weeks.
“No, there is no change in position. Children coming to our border seeking refuge from violence, economic hardships and other dire circumstances is not a crisis,” a White House official told CNN on Monday.
The White House has repeatedly pushed back on calling the situation at the border a “crisis,” instead preferring the word “challenge.” White House press secretary Jen Psaki herself slipped up and called the situation a “crisis” in March.
A reporter at the time asked her whether the U.S. had brought up the border surge in negotiations with Mexico over the delivery of AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccines.
“There have been expectations set outside of, unrelated to any vaccine doses or requests for them, that they would be partners in dealing with the crisis on the border,” Psaki responded. “There have been requests, unrelated, for doses of these vaccines. Every relationship has multiple layers of conversation that are happening at the same time.” (RELATED: President Biden Tells Illegal Immigrants ‘Don’t Come Over’ After Migrants Overwhelm Border Facilities)
The Biden administration has argued that the surge is an annual occurrence that happened under former President Donald Trump’s administration as well. While there were surges in spring of each year under Trump, they were far smaller than the current one, according to federal statistics.
Customs and Border Protection (CBP) reportedly encountered over 171,000 illegal migrants in March 2021, a 400% increase compared to March of 2020, according to preliminary figures reported by The Washington Post. The number is the highest monthly total since 2006.