President BidenJoe BidenUS threatens sweeping export controls against Russian industries Headaches intensify for Democrats in Florida US orders families of embassy staff in Ukraine to leave country MORE on Thursday pushed back against claims his “nice guy” approach to immigration is bringing migrants to the southern border, saying economic drivers and seasonal patterns are the main drivers.
"I'd like to think it's because I'm a nice guy, but it's not," Biden said at his first press conference as president.
“The truth of the matter is, nothing has changed,” he said.
“The reason they're coming is that it's the time they can travel with the least likelihood of dying on the way because of the heat in the desert, No 1. No. 2, they're coming because of the circumstances in their country.”
Analysis by The Washington Post found yearly patterns showing increasing migration to the southern border in the spring, when more mild weather makes the journey safer.
Biden also blamed natural disasters, food insecurity, gang violence and overall economic conditions for pushing Central American migrants toward the U.S.
Republicans have consistently blamed Biden’s policies for drawing an influx of migrants to the border.
Biden’s comments Thursday were some of his most robust in countering those claims, as the White House has previously argued Trump’s hard-line policies created pent-up demand at the border.
The president also stressed that the majority of those crossing the border, including families, are being sent back under a Trump-era law that allows for swift expulsion due to COVID-19.
“If you take a look at the number of people that are coming, the vast majority, the overwhelming majority of people coming to the border and crossing are being sent back,” he said. “That's what's happening. They're not getting across the border.”