Former President Barack Obama said the migrant crisis playing out on the southern border is “heartbreaking” and declared the immigration system to be “dysfunctional” during an interview with ABC News that aired Tuesday.
Over 14,000 migrants, mostly Haitians, crossed the border earlier in September and set up camp under the International Bridge in Del Rio, Texas, amid a continued surge in crossings under President Joe Biden’s administration. Biden faced backlash after the administration began deporting some of the migrants, though later it was determined that many have been allowed to remain in the U.S. for the time being.
Obama spoke to “Good Morning America” co-anchor Robin Roberts about the former vice president’s response and he suggested the country is now at a crossroads on whether real change will be enacted.
“As big-hearted as he is, nobody understands that better than Joe Biden,” Obama said. “And the question is now: Are we gonna get serious about dealing with this problem in a systemic way, as opposed to these one-offs where we’re constantly reacting to emergencies? And I think that that’s something that every American should wanna put an end to.”
Obama said the crisis “is a painful reminder that we don’t have this right yet and we’ve got more work to do.” He admitted that the idea of “open borders is … unsustainable” and called the issue of immigration “tough.”
“Immigration is tough,” Obama noted. “It always has been because, on the one hand, I think we are naturally a people that wants to help others, and we see tragedy and hardship and families that are desperately trying to get here so that their kids are safe, and they’re in some cases fleeing violence or catastrophe.”
“At the same time, we’re a nation state. We have borders. The idea that we can just have open borders is something that … as a practical matter, is unsustainable,” the former president continued.
The Biden administration has largely blamed former President Donald Trump for its current issues at the border. White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on Sept. 23 that Trump’s border policies left Biden with a “very broken system.” (RELATED: Psaki Again Blames The Trump Administration For Border Crisis)