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White House to host briefing for House Democrats on border situation

The White House will host a briefing for Democratic members of the House of Representatives on Tuesday to update them on the situation at the US-Mexico border, according to two sources familiar with the meeting.

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra will be in attendance.

It’s unknown at this point whether Vice President Kamala Harris will attend. Harris was recently assigned by President Joe Biden to oversee efforts with Central American countries to stem the flow of migrants to the US southern border.

As of last Thursday, nearly 5,500 unaccompanied migrant children were held in Customs and Border Protection facilities, which are akin to jail-like conditions, and more than 12,550 children in the custody of the Department of Health and Human Services, which is charged with the care of migrant children.

Internal government estimates obtained by CNN indicate that the Biden administration could need at least 34,100 additional beds to keep up with the projected number of unaccompanied kids arriving at the US-Mexico border through September.

Two separate groups of congressional lawmakers — one with House Democrats and the other with Republican senators — took trips to the southern border last week and had clashing messages about who was to blame for the influx of unaccompanied minors.

Democrats pointed fingers at the Trump administration’s past actions on immigration while GOP senators squarely blamed the Biden administration for the inhumane conditions the minors are being held in.

Biden has committed to making immigration reform legislation a priority of his administration, but Congress has long been unable to garner enough bipartisan support to pass any legislation to change the country’s immigration system.

During his first press conference as president last week, Biden promised conditions for unaccompanied minors arriving in the US will improve and blamed the prior administration and the cooler weather for the spike of migrants at the border.

“The reason they’re coming is that it’s the time they can travel with the least likelihood of dying on the way because of the heat in the desert, number one. Number two, they’re coming because of the circumstances in country,” Biden said.

And over the weekend, White House communications director Kate Bedingfield reiterated the administration’s argument that the surge in border crossings is cyclical and not based on an individual administration’s policies.

“These are the same kinds of surges that we’ve seen, but look, the important thing here is not a question of whether it’s the same or not. The important thing here is the President has said this is unacceptable to him, and he’s working to address it,” Bedingfield told ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday.

This story has been updated with additional detail.

Article Topic Follows: National Politics

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