HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra to visit El Paso on Monday

Migrant Centers
Xavier Becerra

In this March 5, 2019, file photo, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra speaks during a news conference in Sacramento, Calif. President-elect Joe Biden has picked Becerra to be his health secretary, putting a defender of the Affordable Care Act in a leading role to oversee his administration’s coronavirus response. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — Another member of the Biden administration is coming to El Paso to address the immigration situation.

On Monday, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra will visit the Emergency Intake Site at Fort Bliss and will also meet with site leaders and volunteers for briefing.

KTSM 9 News spoke one-on-one with Becerra ahead of Vice President’s visit to El Paso on Friday, and he praised the work that the Biden-Harris administration has been doing when it comes to alleviating some of the strain on agencies like the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). 

“Our job has been to find a safe place — a healthy place — for several thousand of these unaccompanied minor children that have come across the border,” Becerra said. “And we’re doing that as best we can and, so far, we’ve been able to help CBP avoid the thousands of kids that you used to see a few months ago being detained in these adult detention facilities.”

Collaboration between HHS and CBP has led to a reduction in the volume of unaccompanied migrant children temporarily housed at the intake site at Fort Bliss from 5,000 to 15,000.

“The fact that we’ve been able to help CBP move these children to a better setting with us is a testament to the work that’s been done by the women and men at HHS and throughout the federal government to try to help us,” Becerra said.

Members of the GOP have been critical of the Biden-Harris administration’s handling of the immigration crisis. KTSM 9 News last month spoke with GOP spokesperson Paris Dennard, who said the party disapproved of the vice president’s visit to Guatemala and Mexico as part of that administration’s work toward immigration reform.

Similarly, the GOP expressed distaste that Harris was visiting El Paso instead of the Rio Grande Valley.

The administration said the visit to El Paso was appropriate given the immigration policies that were first implemented in El Paso and later nationally adopted by the previous administration. 

Despite the visits by Harris, Becerra and other politicians, Congress has yet to move on approving Biden’s immigration reform bill.

“This is an all-hands-on-deck effort by the Biden administration to deal with this,” said Becerra. “And I think that both President Biden and Vice President Harris are making every effort possible to address these challenges we face on immigration given that the immigration system is clearly broken.”

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