Biden hits out at Trump saying he was the only president to leave children to ‘starve to death’

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Danielle Zoellner
·3 min read
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 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

President Joe Biden has accused Donald Trump of leaving children at the border to “starve to death” when justifying his administration’s response to the current rise in migrants crossing the US-Mexico border.

During his first press conference, Mr Biden was asked if his messaging about unaccompanied minors to date has encouraged families to send their children to the border in hopes they can stay in the United States.

“The idea that I’m gonna say, which I would never do, that if an accompanied child ends up at the border we’re just gonna let him starve to death and stay on the other side – no previous administration did that either, except Trump. I’m not gonna do it,” Mr Biden said in response.

Upon entering office on 20 January, Mr Biden signed several executive orders that erased immigration policies enacted under his predecessor.

These steps have included allowing to boost refugee admissions into the US and providing deportation relief to unauthorised migrants who come to the country as children. One of Mr Biden’s immigration plans has also included enacting legislation that would create an eight-year path to citizenship for the nation’s estimated 10.5 million unauthorised immigrants.

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In comparison, Mr Trump took a harsh stance against immigration and was working to largely restrict who would be able to come to the US and seek citizenship. His administration was accused of separating families at the border – a move that was later changed following significant backlash.

Critics have stressed that the new stance of the Biden administration on immigration could be influencing the current influx of migrants at the border.

Mr Biden said one way his administration hoped to address the increase in migrants at the southern border was to improve circumstances in countries across Latin America.

In the meantime, the president agreed that the current conditions at detention centres at the border were “totally unacceptable”. His administration was currently working to move unaccompanied children from US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) facilities to locations run under the Department of Human and Health Services (HHS).

This commitment came after pictures and video from a detention centre in Donna, Texas, released this week showed unaccompanied minors packed into “pods” that were above capacity.

“They’re gonna get a whole lot of better real quick or we’re gonna hear of some people leaving,” Mr Biden vowed about the centres.

Journalists have been barred from viewing the detention centres by the Biden administration amid the controversy. The administration has blamed the Covid-19 pandemic as the reason, but the move has sparked backlash that the federal government was not being transparent with the public about the current conditions.

Mr Biden was asked if he was going to promote transparency under his administration and allow journalists in these overcrowded detention centres.

“I will commit to transparency ... I will commit very shortly, when my plan is underway, to let you have access,” Mr Biden said. “This is being set up and you will have full access to everything,”

But the president could give no timeline on when that access might be allowed.