Joe Biden Said 'Nothing Has Changed' about Border Crisis, but Child Surge Is Higher

President Joe Biden said "nothing has changed" at the U.S. border with Mexico since he took office, but the surge in unaccompanied child migrants is higher than in former President Donald Trump's final pre-pandemic year.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection data reveals that the number of unaccompanied child migrants encountered at the Southwestern border rose by 61 percent from 5,858 minors in January this year to 9,457 in February.

Under the Trump administration, the number of unaccompanied migrant children spotted at the border rose by 31 percent between January and February 2019—a lower surge than the one witnessed today.

Speaking at his first press conference on Thursday night, President Biden said: "The truth of the matter is nothing has changed. As many people came—28 percent increase in children to the border in my administration; 31 percent... before the pandemic in the Trump administration.

President Joe Biden First Press Conference
President Joe Biden answers a question during his first press briefing in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC, on March 25, 2021. Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

"It happens every single, solitary year. There is a significant increase in the number of people coming to the border in the winter months of January, February, March. That happens every year."

Although Biden was wrong to say there had been a 28 percent increase in children migrating to the border, the number of overall encounters with both adult and child migrants did rise by that rate between January and February this year.

The president was also correct to say that migration at the Southwestern border tends to increase in the winter and spring months before decreasing at the peak of summer time. Newsweek has contacted the White House for further comment and clarification on Biden's remarks.

The president said "nothing has changed" at the border as the crisis continued to embroil Capitol Hill and media requests for access to detention facilities were still unmet despite promises of transparency.

Twenty-one House Republicans published an open letter to Biden on Thursday that called on his administration to stop blocking press access to the border amid the ongoing influx of migrants.

"This crisis is out of control. Indeed, it is far worse than most realize, largely because your Administration is not only mischaracterizing the crisis but also prohibiting journalists from witnessing and documenting the crisis up close," the lawmakers wrote.

"This is an insult to the purposes of a free press—as defended in our Constitution—which are to inform the public and hold those in power accountable."

Border officers have encountered 29,792 unaccompanied children at the border since the start of the 2021 fiscal year, most of whom are aged between 13 and 17 years old.