Monday morning news – March 22, 2021

Mayorkas: The border is secure » Homeland Security chief Alejandro Mayokas made the rounds on several Sunday talk shows to assure the public the situation on the southern border is under control. 

MAYORKAS: The border is secure. The border is closed. We’ve been unequivocal in that, and we are operationalizing our processes, executing our plans…

Officials are scrambling to build up capacity to care for some 14,000 migrants now in federal custody—with many more on the way.

Mayorkas concedes there are problems, and for that he again blamed the previous administration. 

MAYORKAS: What we are seeing is the result of President Trump’s dismantlement of the safe and orderly immigration processes…

He also said the Biden administration is sending the message loud and clear to migrants: do not come to the border right now

But Republicans say those words ring hollow. Ohio Sen. Rob Portman…

PORTMAN: The problem here is the Biden administration on day one made about a half-dozen changes, and since then have made several more, that encourage more people to come to the border, and they didn’t put anything in place to deal with it. 

Mayorkas said when minors show up at the border, we have a responsibility to care for them. 

But GOP Congressman Michael McCaul said Biden’s border policies are creating a much worse human trafficking crisis. 

MCCAUL: The traffickers know they can take children from Central America, extort the families, exploit the children on the dangerous journey to the United States. 

He called on President Biden to return to a policy of requiring asylum seekers to apply in their country of origin or in Mexico. 

Report: Iran made threats against U.S. base, Army general » Iran has made threats to attack a U.S. general and an Army base in Washington D.C. That according to a new report from the Associated Press, citing two senior intelligence officials. 

The report said the NSA intercepted communications in January that showed Iran’s Revolutionary Guard discussed mounting “USS Cole-style attacks” against Fort McNair. 

The intel also revealed threats to kill Gen. Joseph M. Martin and plans to infiltrate and surveil the base. Fort McNair, one of the oldest bases in the country, is Martin’s official residence.

The Army has increased patrols along the shoreline, put up more restricted area signs and placed cameras to monitor the Washington Channel.

U.S. Defense Secretary arrives in Afghanistan » Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin arrived in Kabul on Sunday on his first trip to Afghanistan as Pentagon chief. He met with senior Afghan officials, including President Ashraf Ghani.

His visit comes amid swirling questions about how long American troops will stay in the country and Austin told reporters: 

AUSTIN: It’s obvious that the level of violence remains pretty high in the country. We would really like to see that violence come down, and I think if it does come down, it can begin to set the conditions for some really fruitful diplomatic work. 

The Trump administration struck a deal with the Taliban for a May 1st withdrawal of U.S. troops. President Biden said last week that it will be “tough” to meet that deadline. 

But the Taliban is threatening consequences if U.S. troops aren’t gone by May 1st. A Taliban official said if the Pentagon misses the deadline, that would be a violation of the agreement and—quote—“Their violation will have a reaction.”

Demonstrators call for justice after Georgia shootings » Demonstrators gathered near the Georgia state Capitol over the weekend to demand justice for the victims in a recent string of shootings at massage parlors in the Atlanta area. 

They gathered on Saturday, one day after President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris spoke in Atlanta. 

BIDEN: Another example of the public health crisis of gun violence in this country; eight people killed, seven women, six were of Asian descent. 

A 21-year-old suspect confessed to the shootings, but he told police that the victim’s race was not a factor. 

He claimed to have a sexual addiction that caused him to lash out at what he saw as sources of temptation. Police have said they’re still working to establish a motive. Prosecutors will then determine whether hate crimes charges are warranted.

Miami Beach cracks down on rowdy spring break crowds » Many resort areas in Florida are trying to rein in large spring break crowds. In Miami Beach, crowds got so out of hand that authorities had to call in SWAT teams on Saturday. Officers in bulletproof vests dispersed pepper spray balls to break up a rowdy crowd. 

Thousands descended on South Beach, trashing restaurants and flooding the streets without masks or social distancing.

The city enacted a temporary emergency curfew from 8 p.m. til 6 a.m. South Beach Mayor Dan Gelber… 

GELBER: We’re going to obviously have to always put public safety above all else. 

A military style vehicle rolled down Ocean Drive during curfew hours as officials urged tourists to stay inside their hotels.

(Presidential Palace via AP) U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, center, walks on the red carpet with Acting Afghan Minister of Defense Yasin Zia as they review an honor guard at the presidential palace in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday, March 21, 2021. 

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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