Biden Hasn't Yet Made Plans to Visit U.S.-Mexico Border Amid Migrant Influx

President Joe Biden hasn't made plans yet to travel to the U.S.-Mexico border, amid a rising surge of unaccompanied migrant children.

"Not at the moment," Biden told reporters at the White House before departing for Pennsylvania.

Biden didn't elaborate on a possible timeline for if or when he might make such a trip. His comments come just a day after a group of House Republicans traveled to the southern border to draw attention to the growing influx that has put pressure on facilities and processing sites.

But Biden has faced criticism from Republicans, who say that there is a crisis of immigrants entering the country, as well as criticism from some immigrants rights advocates who have questioned the handling of migrant children in custody amid the coronavirus pandemic.

"It's a humanitarian calamity," U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican, told reporters at the Capitol on Tuesday.

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas led a delegation from the administration to the border Saturday, as Biden attempts to address the escalating situation—breaking away from a hardline, anti-immigration approach established under the Trump administration.

The White House described the trip in a statement as "part of the administration's commitment to restoring order and humanity to our immigration system," with a focus on "the fair and humane treatment of immigrants, the safety of the workforce, and the wellbeing of communities nearby in the face of a global pandemic." Those on the trip, including top Biden adviser Susan Rice, were expected to briefing the president on their return.

The Biden administration has repeatedly avoided referring to the border situation as a crisis, instead insisting that it's a "challenge" that it is working to address. But it's seen a rapid influx of children and families seeking refuge in the United States after four years of Trump policies that often forced them to be turned away at the border. The Biden administration has repeatedly pleaded for migrants to wait to travel to the border until the immigration system can be updated.

"I don't think we need to sit here and put new labels on what we have already conveyed is challenging, what we have conveyed is a top priority for the President, what our policy teams are working on every single day," White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters last week. "The majority of people who come to the border will be turned away, and what we're really talking about, in terms of the people who are being let in, are unaccompanied children—that is a policy decision which we made because we felt it was the most humane approach to addressing what are very difficult circumstances in the region."

This week, Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris are going out on a road show highlighting the recently passed, $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package.

But his Republican rivals have pressed the border issue, with House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy, of California, leading a delegation there this week.

"I think it is a crisis," Senator Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican, told reporters at the Capitol Tuesday. "And it is getting worse."

Meanwhile, Biden's Democratic allies have accused Republicans of playing politics with the issue.

"Frankly, one of the problems that we're having the border now, the challenges we're having as a border now, is that the Republicans demagogue this issue and have demagogued it for decades," House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told reporters during a call Tuesday. "Frankly, when, when the Republicans are wringing their hands ... that isn't just sad. They believe this is a political benefit for them."

Border crisis
Border Patrol agents apprehend a group of migrants near downtown El Paso, Texas, following a congressional border delegation visit on March 15. Justin Hamel / AFP/Getty Images