WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden’s border czar is heading to Mexico on Monday to meet with officials about the influx of migrants coming to the U.S.-Mexico border seeking asylum, as the White House maintains there is not a crisis at the border.
Roberta Jacobson, special assistant to the president and coordinator for the southwest border, is traveling to meet with Mexican government officials. She will be accompanied by Juan Gonzalez, special assistant to the president and senior director for the Western Hemisphere.
They will “engage with Mexican government officials to develop an effective and humane plan of action to manage migration,” National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne said in a statement.
Jacobson was the U.S. ambassador to Mexico between June 2016 and May 2018.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Monday refused to call the situation a “crisis.” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has previously labeled it a “humanitarian crisis,” while Republican lawmakers have called the situation “Biden’s border crisis.”
“Children, presenting at our border, who are fleeing violence, who are fleeing prosecution, who are fleeing terrible situations is not a crisis,” Psaki said. “We feel that it is our responsibility to humanely approach this circumstance, and make sure they are treated and put in conditions that are safe.”
Gonzalez will also travel to Guatemala, where he will meet with government officials, in addition to NGOs and “representatives from civil society.” They will discuss how to address “root causes of migration in the region and build a more hopeful future in the region,” Horne said in the statement. He will be accompanied by Ricardo Zuniga, the Department of State’s northern triangle special envoy.
The trip comes as the Biden administration continues to struggle with the increased number of migrants trying to pass into the United States at the nation’s southern border. They’re receiving pressure from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to address the situation, which many Republicans are calling a “crisis.”
Biden and top administration officials have repeatedly maintained the border is closed, but the government is holding migrant children in facilities because officials say it would be too dangerous for them to make their journey back to their home countries.
Psaki said Monday the United States is working with several countries to get the message out through social media, television and radio that right now is not the right time for migrants to head to the United States.
Since Jan. 21, the State Department has placed an estimated 17,118 radio ads in Brazil, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras in Spanish, Portuguese and six indigenous languages, Psaki said Monday. She noted the ads have played on 33 radio stations, reaching an estimated 15 million people.
The State Department has also worked with Facebook and Instagram to develop an ad campaign to put “our migration messages in the social media streams of millions of individuals who fit the profile of intending migrants,” Psaki said. She added 589 digital ads and paid searches have reached more than 26 million people since Inauguration Day.
Biden said Sunday the White House could do “a lot more” to stop people from making the journey to the U.S.-Mexico border.
“We’re in the process of doing it now, including making sure that we reestablish what existed before, which was they can stay in place and make their case from their home country,” he said.
Reach Rebecca Morin at Twitter @RebeccaMorin_