Donald Trump “dismantled” the immigration system of the United States “in entirety” a top Biden administration official has claimed.
“Quite frankly the entire system was gutted,” said Alejandro Mayorkas at a White House press briefing.
“We are dedicated to achieving, and are working around the clock, to replace the cruelty of the past administration with an orderly, humane and safe immigration process.
“It is hard and it will take time but rest assured we are going to get it done.
“The prior administration dismantled our nation’s immigration system in its entirety. When I started 27 days ago I learned that we did not have the facilities available or equipped to administer the humanitarian laws our Congress passed years ago.”
Mr Mayorkas said that the Trump administration “tore down” the Central American minors process that prevented youngsters from having to make the “perilous journey” to the US border, and had cut off funding to Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.
And he accused the Trump administration of entering into contracts that “were unlawful or against the interests of the United States Department of Justice.”
Mr Mayorkas also told people thinking of coming to the US border for humanitarian relief to rethink their plans.
“They need to wait. It takes time to rebuild the system from scratch,” he added.
“If they come, we are obligated to, in the service of public health, to impose the travel restrictions under the CDC’s authorities and return them to Mexico.
“Families and single adults are in fact being returned under the Covid-19 restrictions.”
Mr Mayorkas also spoke about the Trump child separation policy and branded it “the most powerful and heartbreaking example of the cruelty that preceded this administration.”
“This is an all of government and all of society effort to do what is right,” said Mr Mayorkas.
He added that they hoped to reunite the children with their parents either in the US or in their country of origin, and the government would “explore lawful pathways” to allow those families to remain in the US.
“We will dig out of the cruelty of the past administration and we will rebuild this country’s asylum system.”
Mr Mayorkas announced that the Biden administration has reunited 105 families with their children “in the recent past.”
“The urgency of it cannot be overstated,” he added.
Mr Mayorkas ended his briefing by denying that there was a “crisis” at the border but admitted that his department was facing a “challenge” in dealing with the situation.
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies