Kamala Harris Concedes Border Surge Is 'Huge Problem,' as Biden Admin Officials Tour Texas Facility

As President Joe Biden sends top officials to the southern border with Mexico, Vice President Kamala Harris conceded on Monday that the surge of migrants there is "a huge problem."

The White House has repeatedly pushed back against labeling the surge in migrants, which topped 100,000 apprehensions in February, a "crisis." The Biden administration and many other Democratic lawmakers have described the surge as part of a long-term trend, while also stressing that there were several months in 2019 that saw more than 100,000 migrants apprehended under President Donald Trump.

"Look, it's a huge problem. I'm not going to pretend it's not. It's a huge problem. Are we looking at overcrowding at the border in particular of these kids? Yes," Harris told CBS This Morning Monday morning.

Kamala Harris
Vice President Kamala Harris speaks as President Joe Biden looks on at Emory University in Atlanta on March 19. ERIC BARADAT/AFP via Getty Images

The surge has included thousands of unaccompanied migrant minors, which the Biden administration has declined to deport. While most single migrant adults and families are still being expelled—as they were under Trump—the new administration has asserted that it will not be deporting vulnerable children. Instead, these minors are being detained by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) until they can be united with family members already in the U.S. or transferred to better facilities managed by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Although the transfers should happen within 72 hours, many of the children have been detained for up to 10 days. Harris admitted the shortfalls but stressed that the White House is working to address the issue.

"Should we be processing the cases faster? Yes," the vice president said. "This is, however, not going to be solved overnight."

Several top Biden administration officials were dispatched to the border on Wednesday, amid mounting criticism from Republicans and concerns from Democrats about the conditions in which unaccompanied minors are being held. Axios reported that Angela Ramirez, special assistant to the president and House legislative affairs liaison, and Julissa Reynoso, first lady Jill Biden's chief of staff, were sent on trip to the Carrizo Springs Influx Care Facility in Carrizo Springs, Texas, along with a number of House Democrats.

Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas addressed the concerns about the border during an interview with NBC News' Meet the Press on Sunday. Mayorkas and the Biden administration have blamed Trump for dismantling the nation's immigration system.

"We have a short-term plan, a medium-term plan and a long-term plan, and the president and I have spoken to this repeatedly. Please remember something: that President Trump dismantled the orderly, humane and efficient way of allowing children to make their claims under United States law in their home countries," Mayorkas said during the interview.

"He dismantled the Central American Minors program, so we are rebuilding those orderly and safe processes as quickly as possible," Mayorkas said.

Previously, Mayorkas said that the U.S. was seeing what could be the largest surge of migrants in about two decades.

"We are on pace to encounter more individuals on the southwest border than we have in the last 20 years. We are expelling most single adults and families. We are not expelling unaccompanied children," Mayorkas said in a statement last week.

Newsweek reached out to the White House for further comment but did not hear back before publication.

This story has been updated with additional information.