Mexico

Two months into office, President Biden will give his first news conference as president on Thursday.

In recent days, Biden and other members of the first families have toured the country, touting his newly signed $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan.

Vice President Harris will lead the administration's diplomatic push to work with Mexico and the Northern Triangle countries of Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras to address the root causes of migration, President Biden told reporters on Wednesday.

It's the first major foreign policy portfolio to be assigned to Harris, and it comes as the White House grapples with a growing number of migrants at the southern border, including thousands of minors arriving without adult family members. Harris will work with countries to enhance immigration enforcement on their borders, Biden said.

Former acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf says Trump officials warned the incoming Biden administration that dismantling the Trump administration's immigration policies would cause problems at the southern border.

President Biden's administration is scrambling to deal with an increasingly difficult challenge on the Southwest border that's become one of the first big political firestorms of his nascent presidency.

A growing number of migrants are arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border, many to seek asylum, and the government wasn't prepared for a huge influx of children who are coming alone without their parents.

President Biden is sending some of his top officials to Mexico and Guatemala this week to discuss the growing numbers of U.S.-bound migrants from Central America, one of the biggest challenges facing the new administration.

Roberta Jacobson, a former ambassador to Mexico during the Obama administration who now serves on Biden's National Security Council, and Juan Gonzalez, the NSC's senior director for the region, will travel to Mexico, a senior administration official told reporters.

Updated March 17, 2021 at 1:37 PM ET

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas stressed that the U.S. is both a country of laws and of immigrants in testimony before a House panel on Wednesday.

Seeing the growing number of minors held in jail-like facilities near the U.S.-Mexico border, John Sanders can't help thinking of Carlos Gregorio Hernandez Vasquez.

The 16-year-old boy from Guatemala died in the care of U.S. Customs and Border Protection during the last record-breaking detention of unaccompanied minors during the Trump administration, when Sanders led the agency. The former acting CBP commissioner spoke exclusively to NPR about that experience and his concerns about the current crisis.

Updated March 16, 2021 at 4:35 PM ET

The U.S. government had 4,276 unaccompanied migrant children in custody as of Sunday, according to a Department of Homeland Security document obtained by NPR. The children are spending an average of 117 hours in detention facilities, far longer than the 72 hours allowed by law.

Updated March 15, 2021 at 5:11 PM ET

House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy dubbed the surge in migrants showing up at the U.S. southern border, especially unaccompanied children, the "Biden border crisis" during a trip to Texas with a delegation of Republican lawmakers.

"It's more than a crisis. This is a human heartbreak," McCarthy said at a press conference on Monday after a tour of the El Paso Processing Center. "This crisis is created by the presidential policies of this new administration."

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