Weeks after being sworn in, US President Joe Biden has held his very first news conference.
The commander-in-chief took the opportunity to address a variety of concerns among the US public, including the pandemic and the surging migrant crisis at the US-Mexico border, among others.
Appearing in his first news conference on Thursday, Biden informed reporters that his administration is continuing to work towards delivering on promises that were made early on after assuming the presidency.
Biden kicked off the highly anticipated conference by stating that the administration would be establishing a new goal to administer 200 million COVID-19 vaccines within his first 100 days in office.
However, Biden also acknowledged that the administration has more to do when it comes to children returning to schools, and improving the economic situation so that jobless Americans can return to the workforce.
"Help is here and hope is on the way," he added.
Migrants Coming to US Because 'Biden's a Good Guy'
Over the last several weeks, the Biden administration has repeatedly tiptoed around using the "crisis" label when it comes to describing the current migrant surge at the US-Mexico border, despite several Border Patrol facilities becoming severely overcrowded.
"They know that I'm a decent man or however it's phrased. That's why they're coming because Biden's a good guy. Truth of the matter is, nothing has changed," he added.
Under the Biden administration, the number of illegal border crossings and asylum claims have significantly increased. Although Border Patrol officials are turning away many adults and families, they have been giving clearance to hundreds of unaccompanied minors.
Asked about the camp conditions that migrants are being subjected to, Biden stated that the "totally unacceptable" circumstances are "gonna get a whole hell of a lot better real quick, or we're gonna hear of some people leaving."
"We can get this done," he stressed, stating that over the next week about 1,000 people being held at Border Patrol centers will be moved to "safe, secure beds and facilities."
Biden's remarks came one day after he selected Vice President Kamala Harris to serve as the point person in leading the White House's efforts to tackle the growing crisis. The initiative will see Harris work to stem the flow of illegal border crossings, while also working to establish a partnership with El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.
Earlier, the US House of Representatives cleared two immigration bills to create a pathway to citizenship for over 2 million immigrants who arrived as minors in the US. While the effort has been praised, both bills face an uphill battle in the evenly divided US Senate.
Unlikely US Troops Will Leave Afghanistan by May 1 Deadline
Asked about the possibility of American troops withdrawing from Afghanistan by May 1, Biden told reporters that it was unlikely that the administration would be able to meet the deadline, which is in accordance with the US-Taliban agreement.
Biden further noted that he has been meeting with allies to map out a way in which US forces will be able to "leave in a safe and orderly way." He also stated that he "can't picture" troops remaining in the Middle Eastern country by 2022.
The president's latest remarks on the topic came after recent reports suggested that Biden was considering asking for a six-month extension on the deal.
Recent North Korea Missile Tests Violated UN Resolution
Addressing the recent missile tests carried out by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Biden highlighted that the move was a violation of UN Resolution 1718, and that the US would
Additionally, the commander-in-chief indicated that his administration would be willing to open a diplomatic resolution if it's "conditioned upon the end result of denuclearization."
Biden stressed that North Korea is a top foreign policy crisis.
US 'Not Looking for Confrontation' With China
Touching on the ever-tense US-China relations, Biden emphasized that while his administration has no interest in engaging in a clash with China, it also is not going to let it become the leading country in the world.
"They have an overall goal to become the leading country in the world, the wealthiest country in the world and the most powerful country in the world. That's not going to happen on my watch," he added.
The president explained that in order to push back against China, the US needs to reinvest in American workers and the sciences, reestablish its alliances with world partners and call out human rights violations in China.
He added that he intends to host global leaders at the White House "before too long" to discuss the future.
Gun Control Measures Are 'Matter of Timing'
In the wake of two back-to-back mass shootings in the US, Biden promised that a range of rapid actions would be taken on gun control in the near future, but stressed that it would take time.
Biden's campaign promises on the topic of gun control stated that he would work to hold gun manufacturers accountable, institute a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines and introduce legislation that would halt the proliferation of so-called "ghost guns," among other efforts.
To date, Biden has not yet delivered on those promises.
Following the recent deadly shootings in Georgia and Colorado, Biden has urged congressional lawmakers to take up a new assault weapons ban similar to the federal assault weapons ban that expired in 2004 under the Bush administration. He's also called for the implementation of tougher background checks.
"There’s lots of leverage you can take, obviously, as president and vice president,” Psaki said at the time.
The deadly attack in Boulder, Colorado, marked the seventh mass shooting the US has documented in 2021. The incident claimed the lives of 10 people, and came less than a week after a gunman attacked three massage parlors in Georgia. The Georgia shootings killed eight individuals, six of whom were women of Asian descent.