By Beatriz Pascual Macias
Washington, Mar 14 (efe-epa).- President Joe Biden this week wants to promote the $1.9 trillion economic stimulus plan approved by Congress but the increasing arrivals of thousands of Central American migrant children on the southern border could rain on the parade.
Republican governors and lawmakers on Sunday made the rounds of US morning television shows to criticize the rescue plan, which they claim is excessive, and – without providing any proof – to blame Biden for having created a border “crisis.”
On Fox, GOP Sen. Bill Cassidy said that Biden is “entirely” to blame for the growing number of Central American migrant minors who have recently arrived on the US-Mexico border collapsing the system in place to process migrants.
“You can’t help but notice that the administration changes and there is a surge,” he said.
On CBS, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, another Republican, pushed for a tougher immigration policy and, on Twitter, GOP Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, once again without providing any proof, accused undocumented migrants of spreading Covid-19 in his state.
Republicans say that the migrants are coming in greater numbers since Biden was inaugurated on Jan. 20 because they see him as someone who is more compassionate than his predecessor, Donald Trump.
In the face of these unfounded attacks, Democrats say that the increase in border crossing began in April 2020 during Trump’s administration and, in addition, that the former president left the refugee processing system without enough funding to respond to such a surge.
“What we’re seeing today is an enormous challenge and …the Donald Trump administration didn’t stop them and … it is a direct consequence of four years of dismantling every system in place to address this with humanity and compassion,” Democratic Congresswoman Veronica Escobar – who represents El Paso, Texas, and last week visited migrant processing centers – told CNN.
Escobar said that Biden is working “day and night” to improve the situation.
Meanwhile, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that Biden had inherited a “broken system” and praised him for looking out for the wellbeing of migrant children.
The Biden administration has resisted calling the border situation a crisis, but on Saturday evening he ordered the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to attend to the minors, house them and provide them with transportation.
The New York Times reported last Monday that 3,250 migrant minors were detained over the past two weeks along the US-Mexico border and they are being cared for in several Customs and Border Protection centers designed to house adults, not children.
With the increasing immigration debate, the celebration over the stimulus plan has been relegated to the No. 2 spot.
However, the White House hopes to retake the initiative with the nationwide “Help is Here Tour” that Biden and other officials intend to make, the aim of explaining to Americans without regard for their political stance how the stimulus package can improve their lives, hard hit as they have been by the pandemic.
The tour will begin on Monday with Vice President Kamala Harris’s trip to Las Vegas, while first lady Jill Biden will visit Burlington, New Jersey.
Also on the schedule for visits from prominent administration figures are Pennsylvania, Colorado, New Mexico and Georgia.
Republicans, however, want immigration to continue to dominate the media agenda and, with that in mind, on Monday a group of GOP lawmakers headed by GOP House leader Kevin McCarthy will travel to El Paso, according reporting by Axios.