As White House Resists Calling Border Surge a 'Crisis,' Poll Shows Half of U.S. Considers It One

While the White House has mostly avoided using the term crisis to describe the situation at the U.S.-Mexico border, a new poll shows that a majority of Americans consider it one.

The poll, which was conducted by Morning Consult, found 50 percent of Americans saying that illegal immigration across the U.S.-Mexico border is a "crisis."

According to the poll, 34 percent of respondents said the situation at the border was a problem but not a crisis, 9 percent said neither and 8 percent said they didn't know.

Across political party affiliation, the poll found 74 percent of Republicans saying that the nation is facing a "crisis" at the border, as well as 50 percent of independents and 31 percent of Democrats.

Morning Consult surveyed 1,994 registered voters across the U.S. from March 19 to March 22 and reported a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.

A separate poll conducted by the Hill/HarrisX, found similar results, with 76 percent of respondents saying that the current influx of migrants crossing the border is a "crisis that needs to be addressed immediately," while just 24 percent said that it can be dealt with later.

The polls' findings come as the White House has resisted calling the border surge a "crisis," while many other prominent Republican lawmakers, who have criticized President Joe Biden's immigration policies, have continued to use the term.

While appearing before Republican lawmakers on the House Homeland Security Committee, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas was asked about the increase of migrants crossing the border. After stopping short of calling it a crisis, Mayorkas was pressed by New York Rep. John Katko who asked, "Given the tremendous rise and surge of individuals coming to the border, wouldn't it be fair to call it a crisis?"

In response, Mayorkas said, "I'm not spending any time on the language that we use. I am spending time on the operational response to the situation at the border."

Immigration
Undocumented immigrants walk along the U.S.-Mexico border wall after they ran across the shallow Rio Grande on March 17, in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. U.S. immigration officials are dealing with an immigrant surge along the southwest border with Mexico. John Moore/Getty

During a press briefing last week, White House press secretary Jen Psaki used the word crisis while speaking about the border situation, but walked back her comments shortly after.

"There have been expectations set outside of, unrelated to, any vaccine doses or requests for them, that they would be partners in dealing with the crisis on the border," Psaki said while speaking about the U.S.'s plan to lend AstraZeneca vaccine doses to Mexico.

When asked about using the term crisis while speaking about the border, Psaki quickly replied by saying, "challenges on the border."

On Tuesday, Psaki explained why the White House has avoided using the term to describe the border, saying "children presenting at our border who are fleeing violence, who are fleeing prosecution, who are fleeing terrible situations, is not a crisis."

On the other hand, many Republican lawmakers have continued to use the term crisis while speaking about the border. During a recent interview with Fox News' Fox & Friends, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said the border situation is "more than just a crisis. This is a human tragedy."

Texas Governor Greg Abbott has also been critical of Biden's immigration policies and, in a recent statement, said, "The Biden Administration has created a crisis at our southern border through open border policies that give the green light to dangerous cartels and other criminal activity."

Newsweek reached out to the White House for comment but did not receive a response in time for publication.