The challenge facing Joe Biden at the US-Mexico border – BBC News

[Music] this week we're focused on the u.s mexico border and a test of whether joe biden can match his words with actions what do you do with an unaccompanied child that comes to the border do you repeat what trump did take them from their mothers to move them away hold them in cells etc we're not doing that since joe biden became president tens of thousands of people have arrived at the u.s border most have been turned back but in a change of donald trump's policy unaccompanied children are now not turned back and these pictures are our first site of where they initially stay children packed into confined areas surrounded by screens and republicans are blaming the president this crisis is created by the presidential policies of this new administration there's no other way to claim it than a biden border crisis they're hoping nobody sees the tragic human cost of their failed policy to which the biden administration says this is on donald trump president trump dismantled the orderly humane and efficient way of allowing children to make their claims under united states law in their home countries he dismantled the central american minors program so we are rebuilding those orderly and safe processes as quickly as possible now joe biden has put vice president kamela harris in charge of this and she acknowledges there's a lot of work to be done we've been in office less than 100 days we're addressing it we're dealing with it but it's going to take some time and are we frustrated are you frustrated yes we are frustration for kamela harris frustration for the republicans frustration all around but where does responsibility lie ford his criticism of donald trump has president biden actually made the situation worse and does he need to acknowledge this is a problem with no obvious solution well let's work through it starting with the numbers here's the u.s mexico border it's more than 3 000 kilometers long it's the most frequently crossed international border in the world this graphic shows the number of encounters with u.s border patrol since 2017.

You'll see a peak in 2019 then a sharp fall then a rise again in 2020 so before joe biden took office and we should note for this time of year march 2021 is higher than the three previous years also look at this the number of unaccompanied children is rising now that started under president trump but it's increased more rapidly under president biden and we know where the migrants are coming from some from mexico others from guatemala honduras el salvador and nicaragua and the question at the heart of their stories and of this issue for the white house is why they're heading to the u.s this is one reason these pictures show the aftermath of hurricane iata in november last year many people lost their homes then there's the pandemic it's disrupted everything it's created reasons to leave and reasons to delay journeys both in part explain the current surge on the border and in drug cartels violence poverty and political repression all of these reasons can lead people to conclude that the us is their best perhaps their only hope the bbc's sophie long spoke to some people heading to the border these boys have fled violence and poverty they don't know who president biden is all milken knows is how hard it was to say goodbye to his mum and young siblings they didn't know of joe biden but the president is part of the equation for others this is a photo of a protest in tijuana on the mexican side of the border biden please let us in read the t-shirts and listen to this teenage boy and whether right or wrong this expectation is repeatedly being heard these teenagers get here now with the hope that joe biden will let them in as refugees some u.s officials are drawing similar conclusions before the new president took office we didn't have these types of numbers coming across as we see unaccompanied children all the time we caught one on monday that was from coming in from bolivia that was 10 years old by himself but does this add up joe biden's only two months into his presidency can we really connect him to what's happening well to judge joe biden we need to look at the numbers but we also need to look at how the u.s is treating people [Music] this audio obtained by propublica reportedly came from inside a border facility in texas during the trump administration you can hear children separated from their parents and calling out for them this was one of the most divisive moments of donald trump's presidency and after the furore he stopped the child separation policy though not before hundreds of children had been taken from their parents and joe biden led the condemnation and now they cannot find over 500 of sets of those parents and those kids are alone nowhere to go nowhere to go it's criminal it's criminal and it makes us a laughing stock and violates every notion of who we are as a nation joe biden was also clear that if he were president the u.s would help those in need i would in fact make sure that there is we immediately surge to the border all those people are seeking asylum they deserve to be heard that's who we are and if that wasn't clear enough he also said this where a nation says if you want to flee and you're fleeing oppression you should come well now joe biden is president and he's taken immediate action we're going to work to do the moral and national shame of the previous administration that literally not figuratively ripped children from the arms of their families their mothers and fathers at the border this all got a lot of attention as did that shift in the policy on unaccompanied children and later the president looked to add to his message i can say quite clearly don't come don't leave your town our city or community so first come then don't come until we tell you to all while changing the rules on children and the republican senator mitt romney has tweeted the biden administration's lack of understanding of the power of incentives continues to baffle me allowing unaccompanied minors to stay in the u.s will yield a flood of unaccompanied minors its de facto child separation policy he argues now as we've seen the data does appear to show a rise in the number of unaccompanied children after that change of policy and that rise in arrivals means more children are temporarily in facilities like this and on that the white house had this to say it's not acceptable but i think the challenge here is that there are only there are not that many options the argument being the trump administration didn't maintain sufficient facilities but the trump administration's no longer in power and it also didn't change the policy on unaccompanied children and pressure is growing the democratic congresswoman alexandria ocasio-cortez has tweeted about the children's situation saying this is not okay never has been okay never will be okay no matter the administration or party and these pictures that i showed you earlier were released by another democrat the texas congressman henry cuellar he says he wants to show people what's happening and underlining all of this concern from across the u.s political spectrum is the question of whether the president has perhaps been naive because make no mistake americans load the child separation policy many of them wanted the biden administration to treat children differently to treat them better but changing the policy straight away before facilities are ready risks and influx and risk children ending up in unacceptable conditions and some would argue it also doesn't address the more fundamental issue here because the border between the us and mexico is largely closed at the moment that's because of the pandemic and so thousands of people are waiting in makeshift camps like these but of course the border won't stay closed forever and when it opens just like his predecessors joe biden will need to outline how he plans to manage america's borders when many many people want to get in as sabrina rodriguez writes in politico biden is facing the reality that building the fair and humane immigration system he promised on the campaign trail is a huge undertaking migrants aren't going to stop coming just because his officials say they shouldn't she argues nor are progressives and republicans going to stay quiet just because he asks for patience to that some would add that while the work on the border is urgent it's actually america's role in the region beyond its borders that may offer the longer term solution have a listen to jonathan blitzer from the new yorker this problem is not going anywhere we've neglected all of the realities in the region that we've had a hand in for decades and all of the consequences of that are announcing themselves at the southern border and they do periodically i mean 2014 2019 now they'll continue biden's pitch to the american people was in part simply that he wasn't donald trump that he'd follow the science on the pandemic that he'd stop spreading misinformation this was a low bar immigration is harder much harder and cramped detention centers filling up with unaccompanied children is a long way from joe biden's vision of america but that's what's happening and his next move matters both to those children and his presidency [Music] you

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