WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — President Joe Biden on Thursday defended his handling of a rise in migrants arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border, saying the vast majority are turned back and that some families had been allowed into the country because Mexico would not accept them.
Speaking from the White House at his first formal news conference, Biden also said the increase in arrivals was part of a seasonal trend and happened under former President Donald Trump.
“All the policies that were underway were not helping at all,” he said.
“If you take a look at the number of people who are coming… the vast majority are being sent back… thousands… tens of thousands,” Biden said. “They should all be going back.”
All except unaccompanied minors, he said. Reporters told him stories of meeting those children at the border, whose parents had sent them on the long journey alone, believing they’d be taken care of under new White House leadership.
“Is your messaging encouraging families to send their kids,” a reporter asked the president.
“The idea that I’m going to say, which I would never do, that if an unaccompanied child comes to the border that we’re just gonna let them starve to death and stay on the other side. No previous administration did that either, except Trump,” he said.
Some Republicans were not pleased with the president.
“With all due respect, this press conference is hard to watch. The misinformation being given by President Biden on immigration is stunning. It’s clear he does not have the situational awareness he needs to understand what is going on at the border or how to fix it,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) tweeted.
U.S. Border Patrol caught roughly 100,000 migrants at the border in February, the highest monthly level since a surge in mid-2019. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said last week that border crossings are on pace for the highest level in 20 years.
Reuters contributed to this report.