Franco Ordoñez | WAMC

Franco Ordoñez

Franco Ordoñez is a White House Correspondent for NPR's Washington Desk. Before he came to NPR in 2019, Ordoñez covered the White House for McClatchy. He has also written about diplomatic affairs, foreign policy and immigration, and has been a correspondent in Cuba, Colombia, Mexico and Haiti.

Ordoñez has received several state and national awards for his work, including the Casey Medal, the Gerald Loeb Award and the Robert F. Kennedy Award for Excellence in Journalism. He is a two-time reporting fellow with the International Center for Journalists, and is a graduate of Columbia Journalism School and the University of Georgia.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Updated April 12, 2021 at 3:35 PM ET

President Biden, joined by top foreign and domestic policy advisers, met virtually with 19 CEOs Monday, as his administration tries to deal with a critical supply crunch that is slowing U.S. automobile manufacturing and threatens other sectors, including national security, according to experts.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

The number of migrants encountered at the U.S.-Mexico border in March was the most in at least 15 years, as agents for U.S. Customs and Border Protection apprehended nearly 172,000 people, according to Biden administration officials.

This included nearly 19,000 children and teenagers traveling without a parent — double the levels from February and the most ever in a single month.

President Biden's family separation task force is scouring through thousands of unreviewed files to determine whether the Trump administration began separating families within the first six months of coming into office.

The task force uncovered 5,600 files from the Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Refugee Resettlement from Jan. 20, 2017, the day Donald Trump was sworn in as president, to July 2017. A Department of Homeland Security official acknowledged the task force has yet to reunite families but noted it remains committed to that goal.

Updated April 1, 2021 at 11:43 AM ET

President Biden's top advisers promise "long-needed systemic reforms" to address a backlog of more than 1 million asylum cases in the immigration court system, which often keeps people applying for asylum waiting years to resolve their cases. That could mean some big changes to how asylum cases are processed at the southern border.

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President Biden claimed Thursday in his first press conference since taking office that "nothing has changed" compared to earlier influxes of migrants and unaccompanied children at the border.

"It happens every single, solitary year," he said, pushing back on questions about whether his own policies contributed to the situation on the border.

Former acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf says Trump officials warned the incoming Biden administration that dismantling the Trump administration's immigration policies would cause problems at the southern border.

President Biden is sending some of his top officials to Mexico and Guatemala this week to discuss the growing numbers of U.S.-bound migrants from Central America, one of the biggest challenges facing the new administration.

Roberta Jacobson, a former ambassador to Mexico during the Obama administration who now serves on Biden's National Security Council, and Juan Gonzalez, the NSC's senior director for the region, will travel to Mexico, a senior administration official told reporters.

Hundreds of migrant children and teens traveling without their parents have been held in jail-like detention centers at the border for 10 days, and longer, a DHS document obtained by NPR shows.

Under law, minors are only allowed to spend 72 hours in the detention centers, which are run by Customs and Border Protection.

But as of Thursday, more than 500 of the young migrants have spent more than 240 hours in the border facilities, according to the DHS documents.

Spokespersons for CBP and DHS did not immediately respond to a request for comment late on Thursday.

Seeing the growing number of minors held in jail-like facilities near the U.S.-Mexico border, John Sanders can't help thinking of Carlos Gregorio Hernandez Vasquez.

The 16-year-old boy from Guatemala died in the care of U.S. Customs and Border Protection during the last record-breaking detention of unaccompanied minors during the Trump administration, when Sanders led the agency. The former acting CBP commissioner spoke exclusively to NPR about that experience and his concerns about the current crisis.

Updated March 16, 2021 at 4:35 PM ET

The U.S. government had 4,276 unaccompanied migrant children in custody as of Sunday, according to a Department of Homeland Security document obtained by NPR. The children are spending an average of 117 hours in detention facilities, far longer than the 72 hours allowed by law.

The Biden administration rescinded a 2018 agreement between the Department of Homeland Security and Health and Human Services that encouraged child welfare officers to share sensitive personal information about potential sponsors for unaccompanied children with immigration enforcement agents.

Updated March 10, 2021 at 5:45 PM ET

The Biden administration is making a new push to address the causes of migration from Central America as it faces a surge at the southern border.

Updated at 4:25 p.m. ET

The Biden administration said Monday that it will allow many Venezuelans who are already in the country illegally to remain because of the humanitarian and economic crisis in the socialist South American nation that is an adversary of the U.S.

Carrying out a promise President Biden made on the campaign trail, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas granted Temporary Protected Status to an estimated 320,000 Venezuelans.

The Biden administration is aiming to process and release migrant families arriving at the border seeking asylum more quickly — within 72 hours — by converting some detention facilities, according to multiple sources familiar with the discussions.

The objective is to turn them into processing centers where criminal background checks and full health screenings can be completed, before migrant parents and children are released with orders to appear in court.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Updated at 5 p.m. ET

Hundreds of migrant children still separated from their parents by the Trump administration may be allowed to reunite with their families in the United States — and some families may have the opportunity to stay, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas announced on Monday.

The White House is continuing to defend itself against criticism from the left and right for reopening Trump-era shelters used to house unaccompanied teenagers crossing the border from Mexico.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Wednesday that the administration was forced to make the "tough choice" of reopening the facility in Carrizo Springs, Texas, due to the number of unaccompanied minors arriving at the border, which she explained meant taking responsibility for their care.

Shortages of medical supplies and ingredients for pharmaceuticals came into stark focus during the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, when hospital workers resorted to reusing masks and gloves to try to keep themselves safe from COVID-19.

More recently, automakers were forced to shut down plants because of a shortage of computer chips, putting workers on furlough.

Updated at 12:45 p.m. ET

President Biden on Friday sought to turn the page on former President Donald Trump's "America First" ethos, declaring "America is back" and vowing to rebuild trust with European allies by working on challenges like arms control, COVID-19 and climate change.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

The Biden administration is taking first steps to reopen diplomacy with Iran. The European Union says it is willing to host a meeting of all the signatories of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, and the U.S. says it would attend. That is just the start of what could be a complicated job of reviving a deal that the Trump administration deserted. Joining us now to talk about this is NPR diplomatic correspondent Michele Kelemen.

Hey, Michele.

MICHELE KELEMEN, BYLINE: Hi there, Ailsa.

CHANG: Hi. So, first of all, just tell us what happened today.

Updated on Thursday at 11:45 a.m. ET

President Biden said he spoke for "two straight hours" with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday night — an opening conversation that provided insight about how the new administration plans to tackle the vast economic and security challenges posed by Beijing.

Updated at 5 p.m. ET

President Biden said on Thursday that he will work with allies and partners to sanction Myanmar, end the war in Yemen, admit more refugees, and protect the rights of LGBTQ people around the world, signaling his plans to chart a course away from former President Donald Trump's "America First" approach to foreign policy.

NOEL KING, HOST:

President Biden will sign a series of executive actions today. They take aim at his predecessor Donald Trump's harshest immigration policies, like the one that separated children from their families at the border. NPR White House correspondent Franco Ordoñez is following this story. Good morning, Franco.

FRANCO ORDOÑEZ, BYLINE: Good morning, Noel.

Updated at 6:18 p.m. ET

President Biden signed three executive orders on Tuesday that he said would lead to a more "fair, orderly, humane" immigration system, including one that would begin the difficult process of reuniting migrant children separated from their parents after crossing the U.S.-Mexico border.

When the president speaks to a world leader, the contents of the call are typically released in a short statement known as a readout. But when President Biden spoke Tuesday with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, the White House instead released a video.

Emily Horne, a spokeswoman for the National Security Council, said the video — the first one of its kind for the team — reflects the importance of the White House's support for NATO and for revitalizing trans-Atlantic relationships, which were frayed during the Trump years.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Updated at 10:10 a.m. ET

Unwilling to admit defeat but with his time in office at its end, President Trump left the White House early Wednesday, skipping the Inauguration Day ceremony that generations of outgoing presidents have attended — a symbolic peaceful transfer of power that had been made all but impossible by his actions after losing the election to Joe Biden.

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