WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — President Joe Biden describes the situation at the southern border as “a God awful mess,” but says his administration inherited the problem from the previous president.
Republicans argue the president’s rhetoric during the campaign encouraged people to migrate to the U.S.
Right now, more than 23,000 unaccompanied children are in federal custody and illegal crossings are at the highest level in two decades.
In a wide-ranging interview with NBC News, Biden blamed the Trump administration for some of the immigration problems that persist.
“The failure to have a real transition, the two departments that didn’t give us access to virtually anything were the immigration and the defense department,” said Biden.
During his discussion on immigration during his address to a Joint Session of Congress, Biden did acknowledge the need for immigration reform but not the number of unaccompanied minors in US custody.
When asked about the children during his NBC interview, Biden did acknowledge the criticism he’s faced over his delay in reuniting families separated under the Trump administration.
“One of the things is we don’t know yet where those kids are. We’re trying like hell to figure out what happened, ” said Biden.
The issue remains political, with Arizona Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly calling the situation on the border a crisis.
“What I didn’t hear tonight was a plan to address the immediate crisis at the border, and I will continue holding this administration accountable,” said the senator in a statement.
Kelly, is up for election again in 2022, in a state where the immigration debate is front and center.
“We’re a border state, and it’s definitely something that’s on a lot of a lot of voters’ minds. So it’s not surprising at all, really to see Mark Kelly, kind of move towards the center there,” said Arizona Mirror Politics Reporter Jeremy Duda.
He doesn’t see this rift being a big deal just yet.
“Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer give folks who have tough free elections a little bit more leeway to stray from the party line, I would imagine, you know, Joe Biden, and the White House will be doing the same,” said Duda.
For now, the president reiterating that good policy is good politics when it comes to immigration, especially with minors.
“What we’re doing now is we’re going back to those countries in question where most of its coming from and saying, look, you can apply from your country. You don’t have to make this trek,” said Biden.