< Officials Debate Wave of Migrants Arriving at US Border
By Dan Friedell
16 March 2021

U.S. officials are struggling with the problem of thousands of Central American migrants arriving at the southern U.S. border and seeking entry. Many are children who do not have a parent with them.

Democratic Party members in the U.S. House of Representatives say they are "trying to fix a broken system" left behind by the administration of former President Donald Trump.

The leaders of the Republican Party in the House say President Joe Biden's administration created a new crisis. Kevin McCarthy, the Republican leader in the House of Representatives called what is going on "a Biden border crisis."

The Biden administration wants to call what is going on "a challenge."

Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, said it is a "humanitarian crisis."

Even Trump is talking about it, saying Biden's administration was "recklessly eliminating our border."

Jen Psaki, Biden's press secretary, said Republicans who say Biden opened the border were "absolutely incorrect."

However, Roberta Jacobson, who works in the White House, said many people may now be trying to get into the U.S. after Biden took office. She said they think a more "humane" policy is in place now that Trump is no longer president. She also noted that people who smuggle migrants into the U.S. may have been giving people false information.

Asylum seeking unaccompanied minors are transported in a U.S. Border Patrol vehicle after they crossed the Rio Grande river into the United States from Mexico on a raft in Penitas, Texas, March 9, 2021.
Asylum seeking unaccompanied minors are transported in a U.S. Border Patrol vehicle after they crossed the Rio Grande river into the United States from Mexico on a raft in Penitas, Texas, March 9, 2021.

The Biden administration stopped the building of a border wall which Trump started during his presidency. However, some policies from the Trump administration have stayed in place. The U.S. continues to prevent some people from coming into the country because of the COVID-19 health crisis.

Alejandro Mayorkas is the Homeland Security secretary. On Tuesday, he said that children coming into the U.S. are "vulnerable" and the U.S. has ended a policy of sending them back.

The number of children trying to cross the border without adults increased by 60 percent from January to February. More than 9,400 tried to enter the United States last month.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection supervises security at the border. It dealt with 100,000 people, mostly adults, in February. The last time the number was that high was in June 2019.

While the U.S. is still sending adults and families home, children under the age of 18 who come by themselves are permitted to stay. The U.S. is considering whether they should be offered asylum or another reason to remain.

Mayorkas said the majority of the children who are coming to the border have a relative or parent in the U.S.

Biden's administration is working with FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, to set up temporary places for migrant children to live in both Texas and Arizona. It is also working with the Central American countries of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador to make more shelters available south of the U.S. border and slow down the number of people who want to come north.

Mayorkas said his agency is working hard but called the situation "a difficult one."

I'm Dan Friedell.

VOA's Ken Bredemeier wrote this story for VOA News. Dan Friedell adapted it for Learning English. Mario Ritter, Jr. was the editor.

What do you think the U.S. should do about its southern border? We want to hear from you. Tell us in the Comments Section and visit 51VOA.COM.


Words in This Story

challenge –n. a difficult task or problem

recklessly –adv. not showing proper concern about the possible bad results of your actions

eliminating –v. to remove something

absolutely –adv. completely or totally

humane –adj. kind or gentle to people or animals

smuggle –v. to move (someone or something) from one country into another illegally and secretly

vulnerable –adj. open to attack, harm, or damage

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