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Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. Photo: Mark Makela/Getty Images

The U.S. is on-pace to encounter more people at the U.S.-Mexico border "than we have in the last 20 years," Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas wrote in a lengthy statement on Tuesday.

The big picture: The scale of the arrivals represents a budding crisis for President Biden. Mayorkas acknowledged that the arrival of the migrants, including unaccompanied children, at the Southwest border is "difficult," but added that the administration is "making progress and we are executing on our plan."

  • "This is not new," Mayorkas wrote. "We have experienced migration surges before — in 2019, 2014, and before then as well. Since April 2020, the number of encounters at the southwest border has been steadily increasing."

The statement comes as Republicans have criticized the Biden administration for refusing to call the surge a "crisis." Axios previously reported that Biden was briefed on the need for 20,000 additional beds to shelter the children expected to arrive at the border.

Mayorkas noted that Biden has reversed the Trump administration's policy of turning away unaccompanied children because of the public health emergency brought on by the pandemic, and acknowledged that the coronavirus has made it more difficult to house the children.

  • The administration is also bringing in additional personnel to supervise and care for the children, as well as adding facilities to house them in Texas and Arizona, the secretary said.
  • The administration also restarted a program that provides a "lawful pathway for children to come to the United States without having to take the dangerous journey," and is looking for more legal pathways that would not require children to leave their country before being admitted.

What he's saying: "Poverty, high levels of violence, and corruption in Mexico and the Northern Triangle countries have propelled migration to our southwest border for years," Mayorkas said.

  • "The adverse conditions have continued to deteriorate. Two damaging hurricanes that hit Honduras and swept through the region made the living conditions there even worse, causing more children and families to flee."

Go deeper: Why migrants are fleeing their homes for the U.S.

Go deeper

9 hours ago - World

Biden seeks to reboot U.S. sanctions policy

Sanctions increased under Obama and dramatically under Trump. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

The Biden administration is rethinking the U.S. approach to sanctions after four years of Donald Trump imposing and escalating them.

The big picture: Sanctions are among the most powerful tools the U.S. has to influence its adversaries’ behavior without using force. But they frequently fail to bring down regimes or moderate their behavior, and they can increase the suffering of civilians and resentment of the U.S.

9 hours ago - World

Merkel's farewell spoiled by Poland crisis at EU summit

One last awkward EU "family photo." Photo: John Thys/AFP via Getty Images

Angela Merkel took up her vaunted mantle as Europe's crisis manager for what could be the last time tonight, as she urged the EU to find compromise in its showdown with Poland.

Why it matters: The European Commission has threatened to withhold over $40 billion in pandemic recovery funds after Poland's constitutional tribunal — stacked with loyalists from the ruling right-wing populist party — rejected the principle that EU law has primacy over national law.

Republicans who put it all on the line

Rep. Nancy Mace speaks with reporters after voting to hold Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

A small contingent of House Republicans risked their political futures on Thursday, they say, in the name of constitutional responsibility.

Why it matters: The nine Republicans who voted to hold former Trump aide Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress are now in peril of becoming political pariahs. They've opened themselves up to potential primary challengers and public attacks from their party's kingmaker — former President Trump.