Outgoing Trump Officials Sabotaged Biden Response to Child Migrant Surge
Republicans eager to score cheap political points against President Joe Biden have been nonstop drum-beating on their favorite media outlets with criticism about his administration’s handling of the surge of unaccompanied migrant children arriving at the southern border.
But an NBC News report has revealed that the outgoing Trump administration actively sabotaged the Biden transition team by refusing for weeks to take action to create more bed space for the large number of children that it accurately predicted would be crossing the border. Transition officials and U.S. official familiar with the discussions said that the Biden team made its concerns about an impending lack of shelter space known to Trump’s Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Homeland Security in early December 2020 after seeing a trend of unaccompanied minors crossing the border emerge in the fall. Those same officials said they repeated their concerns to Trump officials in multiple meetings, multiple times per week. “The writing was on the wall,” the U.S. official said.
It wasn’t until Jan. 15 – five days before Biden’s inauguration – that HHS Secretary Alex Azar finally directed that a search for locations to establish additional shelter space begin. That process takes weeks. The Biden administration finally was able to open a new facility in Carrizo Springs, Texas, on Feb. 22.
“In a transition team, you don’t have hold of the buttons of power. You can advise, you can strongly direct, you can strongly recommend, but at the end of the day, the outgoing administration was responsible for action and they just didn’t take it. They gave no reason,” the Biden transition official said.
“They were sitting on their hands,” said one of the transition officials, who does not currently work for the Biden administration and spoke on the condition of anonymity. “It was incredibly frustrating.”