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Joe Biden told immigrants making the difficult journey to the US-Mexico border “don’t come over” as the administration attempts to respond to an increase of unaccompanied children seeking asylum.
In a wide-ranging interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos, aired in full on Wednesday morning, the US president also discussed vaccines, Vladimir Putin and the New York governor, Andrew Cuomo.
Biden said his plan for the immediate issue of children needing safety at the border was to increase the number of beds available and speed up the process of placing children with sponsors in the US while their legal cases play out.
“We will have, I believe by next month, enough of those beds to take care of these children who have no place to go,” Biden said.
In the interview Biden was also critical of the existing process for migrants. “You have to try and get control of the mess that was inherited,” Biden said.
Longer-term, Biden said his plan for the border included creating programs to address the factors driving people from their home countries – including violence, poverty, corruption and the climate crisis – and to allow children to apply for asylum from those countries, instead of at the border. “They come because their circumstance is so bad,” Biden said.
But he emphasized that the US was still blocking most asylum-seeking adults and many families from pursuing their claims at the border. “I can say quite clearly: don’t come over,” Biden said.
Stephanopoulos also pressed Biden on his vaccine plan, asking when things would return to normal. Biden said his previously stated goal of getting things close to normal by the Fourth of July holiday wouldn’t happen unless people wear masks, socially distance and wash their hands.
Biden also said he was surprised that the conversation about vaccines had been politicized.
“I honest to God thought we had it out,” Biden said. “I honest to God thought that, once we guaranteed we had enough vaccine for everybody, things would start to calm down. Well, they have calmed down a great deal. But I don’t quite understand – you know – I just don’t understand this sort of macho thing about, ‘I’m not gonna get the vaccine. I have a right as an American, my freedom to not do it.’ Well, why don’t you be a patriot? Protect other people.”
Biden said that since being vaccinated, he has been able to hug his grandchildren and see them in his home.
The pair also discussed Biden’s foreign policy plans and the president said he was currently reviewing the deal made by Donald Trump with the Taliban to have the US pull its troops from Afghanistan by 1 May.
“I’m in the process of making that decision now as to when they’ll leave,” Biden said. “The fact is that, that was not a very solidly negotiated deal that the president – the former president – worked out. And so we’re in consultation with our allies as well as the government, and that decision’s going to be – it’s in process now.”
Biden said it would be “tough” for all service members to leave by the May deadline.
“It could happen,” he said, “but it is tough.”
Stephanopoulos asked Biden if the Russian president would “pay” after the US chief intelligence office found that Putin had overseen efforts aimed at “denigrating” Biden’s candidacy in the 2020 presidential election.
“He will pay a price,” Biden said, noting that the two leaders had spoken in January about Putin’s election meddling.
“The conversation started off, I said, ‘I know you and you know me. If I establish this occurred, then be prepared.’”
Stephanopoulos asked: “So you know Vladimir Putin. You think he’s a killer?”
“Mmm hmm, I do,” Biden replied.
Biden was also asked about US leaders, including the allegations that Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed several women. The state attorney general is investigating the claims and several prominent New York politicians have called for the Democratic governor to step down.
Stephanopoulos asked Biden: “If the investigation confirms the claims of the women, should he resign?”
“Yes,” Biden replied. “I think he’ll probably end up being prosecuted, too.”
The interview concluded with Stephanopoulos asking Biden about his dog, Major, who the White House recently announced had caused “a minor injury” to someone on the property. After, Major was brought to the Biden home in Delaware, where he is now being trained.
Biden said Major did not bite someone and break their skin and only went to the Delaware home because he and his wife, Jill Biden, were going to be away for a few days. The new environment of the White House startled Major, Biden said.
“You turn a corner, and there’s two people you don’t know at all,” Biden said. “And he moves to protect. But he’s a sweet dog. Eighty-five per cent of the people there love him. He just – all he does is lick them and wag his tail.”
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Biden tells migrants ‘don’t come over’ US border as he tackles inherited ‘mess’ | US news