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Pelosi: 'Every minute' migrant children separated from parents 'a crisis'

Pelosi: 'Every minute' migrant children separated from parents 'a crisis'
© Greg Nash

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOn The Money: Weekly jobless claims fall to 498K, hitting new post-lockdown low | House to advance appropriations bills in June, July Rural Democrats urge protections from tax increases for family farms Cheney fight stokes cries of GOP double standard for women MORE (D-Calif.) described the situation at the southern border as a crisis on Wednesday but said President BidenJoe BidenAtlanta mayor won't run for reelection South Carolina governor to end pandemic unemployment benefits in June Airplane pollution set to soar with post-pandemic travel boom MORE should be given time to deal with a surge of migrants at the border.

"The president has been in office not quite two months," Pelosi said during an appearance on MSNBC's "Morning Joe."

"They are addressing it and it will improve," she said, adding "we are all impatient" when it comes to children separated from their parents at the border. 

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The flood of people at the border has included thousands of children, some of them traveling without parents. The U.S. government has had difficulty in providing shelter, with many people, including children, being held in jail-like conditions longer than the 72 hours allowed by law. 

"As far as the children are concerned, you can imagine me as a mother of five, every minute that a parent is separated from a child to me is a crisis," Pelosi said. "So we want this to move along expeditiously." 

Democrats strongly condemned former President TrumpDonald TrumpVeteran accused in alleged border wall scheme faces new charges Arizona Republicans to brush off DOJ concern about election audit FEC drops investigation into Trump hush money payments MORE's family separation policy in 2018, a measure that the administration said at the time was implemented with the explicit goal of deterring illegal immigration. 

Republicans visiting the southern border this week blamed Biden for the recent border surge, saying his statements on immigration reform are encouraging people to flee other countries and seek asylum in America. 

Biden's proposed immigration agenda would provide a legal path to citizenship for some 11 million undocumented immigrants currently living in the country. 

Pelosi said she "takes issue" with statements made by Trump and others suggesting "terrorists" from Middle Eastern countries are infiltrating large groups of migrants along the southern border. 

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"So what we want to do is honor our responsibilities as a nation in terms of the crown jewel of our humanitarianism," she said. 

In interviews along the border, some of the migrants who have crossed say they specifically have come to America hoping to have a better chance of gaining legal citizenship under the Biden administration. 

In an interview on Tuesday night, Biden said migrants should not come to the United States. 

Pelosi on Wednesday pushed back at the idea Biden's policies were incentivizing migrants to come to the U.S. She said people should seek asylum in the United States if they are seeking persecution.

"If they have a well-founded fear of persecution, yes it is agreeable," Pelosi said. "We have to address the causes of this migration ... if we can help them there in our hemisphere that would be a good thing. People generally like to stay home."