- DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Sunday addressed the crisis at the US-Mexico border.
- He blamed Trump-era policies for an increase in unaccompanied children seeking to cross the border.
- The Trump administration ended a policy that let children seek asylum in the US from their country.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Sunday said the Trump administration’s immigration policies were partly behind the current surge in unaccompanied minors trying to enter the US.
Mayorkas addressed the unfolding crisis at the US-Mexico border in an interview with NBC News. US officials are holding 15,000 unaccompanied minors who attempted to enter the country, CBS News reported.
While describing factors behind the crisis, Mayorkas mentioned President Donald Trump’s dismantling of a program that allowed minors to apply for asylum in the US from their own countries, saying: “Trump dismantled the orderly, humane, and efficient way of allowing children to make their claims under US law in their home countries.”
He added that the Biden administration was “rebuilding those orderly and safe processes as quickly as possible.”
The program Mayorkas was referring to is the Central American Minors Program, which allowed children fleeing violence in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras to apply for asylum in the US from those countries.
That program allowed them to claim asylum without having to make the perilous journey to the US in an effort to apply when they entered.
On March 10, the Biden administration announced it was relaunching the program.
Experts and Biden administration officials have told Reuters, however, that other factors are prompting the current border surge as well.
Some said Biden’s decision to end a Trump policy of expelling unaccompanied minors under an emergency pandemic law might have encouraged more to attempt to enter the US.
The Biden administration has also said it is inhumane to expel unaccompanied minors, who have in the past fallen into the hands of traffickers.
The DHS said ongoing conflicts in Central America and recent devastating hurricanes were other reasons behind the surge.
Biden has pledged to end Trump’s migration policies, but the number of migrants trying to enter the US has surged in recent weeks, and his administration is struggling to house the unaccompanied minors at the border.
Biden faces attacks over the crisis from some Democrats who say the current response is inhumane and from Republicans who want tougher policies. Republicans have accused Biden of being responsible for the crisis by signaling he was loosening Trump’s migration policies.