Joe Biden has been accused of betraying the residents of a small Texan border town, who feel let down by his administration’s border policies.
Bruno Lozano, the Democrat mayor of Del Rio, 150 miles west of San Antonio, said that he was ‘pleading’ with Washington DC to help his town.
He said his town of 35,000 people currently sees 150 migrants arriving a day, but they do not have the resources to cope.
Lozano, 38, said he had been trying since February to get Biden’s attention.
Shortly before the winter storm hit last month, he sent a video to Biden asking that migrants be prevented from resettling in his community, because he did not have the resources necessary.
‘Mr. President my name is Bruno Lozano, mayor of the city of Del Rio, Texas, and I am pleading and requesting with you to please put a halt to any measures regarding the release of immigrants awaiting court dates into the city of Del Rio and surrounding areas,’ he said, with footage of empty store shelves and grocery store lines in the background.
‘We do not have the resources available to house and accommodate these migrants within our community.
‘If you do send these individuals into our community, we will be forced to make a decision to leave them without resources under these dire circumstances.
‘I’m asking to please stop, please make another plan for this federal issue.’
The Biden administration is currently struggling to cope with a surge in migrant arrivals.
Of particular concern are the number of unaccompanied children: Border Patrol apprehended 561 lone minors across the U.S.-Mexico border on March 15, up from a daily average of 332 per day in February.
On a March 18 call, senior Biden administration officials told reporters that about 14,000 migrant children who had arrived without a parent or guardian were in U.S. government custody.
Biden on Sunday addressed the issue as he returned to the White House from the Camp David presidential retreat and said he would visit the border region at some point, although he gave no specific timetable.
When asked what more could be done to convince migrant families to stop coming across the border, Biden told reporters: ‘A lot more, we are in the process of doing it now, including making sure we re-establish what existed before – which is they can stay in place and make their case from their home countries.’
The number of unaccompanied migrant children in US custody surpassed 15,000 as of Saturday.
Nearly 1,000 children have reportedly been held by agents for more than 10 days.
Biden’s team have claimed that Trump bears responsibility for the crush of people at the border because the former president dismantled much of the system that was in place to process asylum requests.
Now because much of the apparatus to process asylum seekers has been done away with, there’s a crush of people at the border and not enough infrastructure in place to process them, they say.
Lozano said that the Biden administration was simply shifting blame.
‘I’m not trying to demonize the humanitarian aspect by any means but my responsibility is to the city of Del Rio and the residents of Del Rio, Texas, my responsibilities are to the American people that got me elected,’ he said.
‘Nobody wants to actually tackle the issue, you’re condoning unlawful behavior, period.
‘There’s a lawful way to enter the United States, there’s a lawful way to seek asylum and it just undermines the entire immigration process.’
Lozano told the Post he was angry that his town’s budget had to be spent on what he saw as a federal problem.
‘It’s not even in our budget. Every line item is accounted for in municipal government, we’re very fine tuned in budget. It’s not appropriate,’ he said.
‘It just blows my mind how disconnected from reality [they are] or maybe they do know, maybe they just don’t want to call a spade a spade, you know, because it’s uncomfortable.’
The mayor said that migrants were brought to the Val Verde Border Humanitarian Coalition where they have access to services, before boarding flights and buses out of town.
If they cannot move on, the town needs to find a place for them to sleep.
‘That’s when the logistical nightmare begins, where are they going to sleep for the night? That’s the number I worry about each day,’ he said.
‘Sometimes migrants get released after hours and there’s simply nowhere to put them.
‘I can’t use the civic center because I’m using that for COVID vaccines.’
He said the town had turned their basketball court into a makeshift shelter.
Lozano, whose 2018 election as the youngest and first openly gay mayor of the town made history, said the Biden administration should have been better prepared for the influx.
‘Let’s be real, the Biden administration sent that message that, you know, ‘we’re going to reverse this, we’re going to do that,’ he said.
‘And sure enough within days, within days, it started happening again.
‘It was completely predictable.’
Biden has bridled at accusations that he should have been better prepared.
He insisted last week that his message to migrants was: Do not come.
Yet the fact remains that his administration has been left reeling.
On Sunday Fox News confirmed that the Border Patrol in the Rio Grande Valley Sector has begun to process and release migrants who crossed the border illegally without first giving them a court date to reappear.
A senior CBP source told the network that Border Patrol agents in the Rio Grande Valley Sector said the migrants are being released into the US without an official Notice to Appear, a process that normally takes hours for each individual or family.
The move means migrants who crossed the border illegally would be released from custody into the US – and it would place the responsibility of returning for an asylum hearing on the migrants themselves.
According to Fox News, migrants are being registered into the system using biometrical data.
Migrants in the Rio Grande Valley Sector are being processed mostly at a temporary outdoor site. Border agents have emphasized that this does not apply to unaccompanied minors.
‘You have this policy where unlawful entry is being condoned, criminal activity is being condoned, these migrants are using the cartels to traverse Mexico and that’s a fact and organized criminal activity is rising because of that,’ Lozano said.
‘I’m calling them out, I’m so frustrated as a border town mayor about all of this.’