“The message isn’t, ‘Don’t come now,’ it’s, ‘Don’t come in this way, ever,’” Roberta Jacobson, the White House’s southern border coordinator, told Reuters in an interview. “The way to come to the United States is through legal pathways.”
The Biden administration is wrestling with a growing humanitarian crisis at the southern US border, where an uptick in the number of migrants fleeing violence, natural disasters and economic hardship in Central America is testing President Joe Biden’s commitment to a more humane immigration policy.
Biden’s promise to end former President Donald Trump’s hardline immigration policies has been complicated by a recent spike in the number of migrants crossing the border illegally. US officials are struggling to house and process an increasing number of unaccompanied children, many of whom have been stuck in jail-like border stations for days while they await placement in overwhelmed government-run shelters.
The Biden administration’s message to would-be migrants has become stricter in recent days amid intense criticism from opposition Republicans that Biden’s relaxation of some of Trump’s policies has encouraged people to come to the United States.
Jacobson echoed that tougher tone on Thursday, stressing that the policy of the United States was to expel migrants trying to cross the border illegally, with the exception of unaccompanied children. But she acknowledged that as a US official her warnings might be lost amid the deception of people smugglers who are telling migrants the border is open.