President Biden on Tuesday said that the glut of migrants on the southwest border was due to migrants fleeing Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua — countries where he said it would be “not rational” to send them back.
He offered that explanation when reporters had pressed Mr. Biden on why the border has become “more overwhelmed on your watch.”
“There are fewer immigrants coming from Central America and from Mexico. This is a totally different circumstance,” he said. “What’s on my watch now is Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua, and the ability to send them back to those states is not rational.”
He said his administration is working with Mexico and other countries to “see if we can stop the flow.”
Pressure is mounting on Mr. Biden from the spike in illegal border crossing and apprehensions, which red-state border governors have pushed into the spotlight by transporting migrants to Democrat-run jurisdictions such as Chicago, Washington and Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection has reported 2.15 million encounters at the southern border so far this fiscal year, up from 1.7 million encounters in 2021 and less than half a million in 2020, the final year of the Trump administration.
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Republicans have accused Democrats of ignoring what they say has become a crisis on the border. Conservatives also say the administration’s lax policies toward illegal immigration have encouraged floods of migrants to make the journey to the U.S.
Republican governors in overwhelmed border states have begun sharing the pain. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott started busing migrants to Democrat-run jurisdictions in April.
Last week, he dropped off two busloads of migrants in front of Vice President Kamala Harris’ official residence in Washington.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, paid for a flight last week to transport roughly 50 migrants from San Antonio, Texas, to Martha’s Vineyard.
Mr. Biden accused Republicans of “playing politics with human beings.”
“What they’re doing is simply wrong, it’s un-American, it’s reckless,” he said last week. “We have a process in place to manage migrants at the border. We’re working to make sure it’s safe and orderly and humane. Republican officials should not interfere with that process by waging these political stunts.”
On Tuesday, the White House said it is “coordinating closely” with officials in Mr. Biden’s home state of Delaware after receiving reports that a planeload of migrants may be inbound from Texas.
Officials in the state later announced that no migrant flights were, in fact, inbound to Delaware.
A reporter asked Mr. Biden about previous threats from Mr. DeSantis to send migrants to his home state.
“He should come visit,” Mr. Biden responded. “We have a beautiful shoreline.”