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Biden tells migrants 'don't come over' amid surge at the border

President BidenJoe BidenKinzinger, Gaetz get in back-and-forth on Twitter over Cheney vote Cheney in defiant floor speech: Trump on 'crusade to undermine our democracy' US officials testify on domestic terrorism in wake of Capitol attack MORE on Tuesday urged migrants not to make the journey to the U.S. as his administration struggles to get a handle on a surge at the southern border.

"I can say quite clearly don't come over," Biden told George StephanopoulosGeorge Robert StephanopoulosFauci: 'Other countries need to chip in' to help India Harris: I don't think America is a racist country, but we need to speak truth about history Biden meets with TV anchors ahead of joint address MORE of ABC News in an interview scheduled to air Wednesday morning. "Don't leave your town or city or community."

Biden conceded the surge "could be" worse than the one that prompted a significant crackdown from the Trump administration and threats to close the border in 2019 but said it was not there yet.

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Biden echoed what other administration officials have said in recent weeks as the situation worsens, saying his team needs time to get the system set up to process such large numbers of migrants.

The president pushed back on arguments that migrants are crossing in large numbers because Biden has eased several Trump-era policies meant to curb immigration.

"The idea that Joe Biden said, 'Come' — because I heard the other day that they're coming because they know I'm a nice guy. Here's the deal: They're not," Biden said.

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The president's comments are his most extensive to date as his administration grapples with a burgeoning crisis along the border.

CBS Evening News reported on Tuesday night that more than 13,000 young migrants are being held in U.S. custody for an average of 120 hours. Legal requirements set the limit at 72 hours.

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro MayorkasAlejandro MayorkasUS officials testify on domestic terrorism in wake of Capitol attack DHS establishes domestic terror unit within its intelligence office Overnight Energy: Southeast sees gas shortages amid pipeline shutdown | Feds eye more oversight of pipelines after Colonial attack | Biden administration approves major offshore wind project MORE said in a statement Tuesday morning that the number of attempted crossings at the U.S. southern border is expected to reach its highest level in two decades.

Mayorkas and other officials have repeatedly discouraged migrants from coming to the border. Still, there has been a crush of young migrants in particular attempting to cross into the U.S., many of them unaccompanied. 

Biden told reporters earlier Tuesday that he did not have any plans at the moment to make a trip to the border.

Republicans have seized on the situation to argue it is a result of Biden's more lax immigration policies. Biden halted construction of the border wall upon taking office, and he has rescinded a Trump order known as the Migrant Protection Protocols, which required migrants to wait in Mexico while awaiting processing.