Mar 5, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Exclusive: GOP Leader McCarthy asks to meet with Biden about the border

 Rep. Kevin McCarthy participates in a discussion during the 2021 Conservative Political Action Conference

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy at CPAC. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has requested a meeting with President Biden to discuss the rising numbers of unaccompanied migrant children at the U.S.-Mexico border, in a letter sent on Friday.

Why it matters: Biden is facing criticism from the right and the left as agency actions and media reports reveal spiking numbers of migrant children overwhelming parts of the U.S. immigration system. Recent data shows an average of 321 kids being referred to migrant shelters each day, as Axios reported.

  • "I feel compelled to express great concern with the manner in which your administration is approaching this crisis, but with hope that we can work together to solve it," McCarthy wrote in the letter addressed to Biden.

What they're saying: The House minority leader criticizes Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas for telling migrants earlier this week from the White House, "We are not saying don't come, we are saying don't come now."

  • "To be clear — there is never a 'right time' to enter the country illegally and violate the laws of the United States. Signaling otherwise is reckless and will make the situation worse," McCarthy writes, contrasting Mayorkas' words with those of the former DHS Secretary under Obama, Jeh Johnson, during the 2014 crisis.

The big picture: This comes as other congressional Republicans and some border Democrats are raising the alarm.

  • Ranking members of both the House Judiciary and Oversight committees sent letters this week with other Republican members demanding hearings about the border situation.

The latest: The White House confirmed Thursday evening that Biden has asked some of his top officials to visit the border "to provide a full briefing to him on the government response to the influx of unaccompanied minors."

  • Biden and Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei agreed during a call Thursday evening for their teams "to meet in the coming weeks to develop an effective and humane plan of action to manage migration," according to the White House readout. Guatemala is one of the top countries of origin for people crossing the U.S.-Mexico border.
  • U.S. agencies charged with border enforcement and the care of migrant children have been moving to rapidly open overflow shelters to hold the rising number of migrants. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's family detentions center are also being revamped to more quickly release migrant families into the country.
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