President Joe Biden has got his first big political crisis that is all his own

Asylum seeking migrant families and unaccompanied minors from Central America take refuge in a makeshift U.S. Customs and Border Protection processing center on March 12, 2021.

This was excerpted from the March 17 edition of CNN's Meanwhile in America, the daily email about US politics for global readers. Click here to read past editions and subscribe.

(CNN)President Joe Biden has got his first big political crisis that is all his own.

When he took power, it seemed in many ways that the United States had nowhere to go but up after facing the pandemic and consequent economic disaster. But a sudden influx of thousands of children across the US-Mexico border has presented the first emergency to unfold on the new President's watch.
When Biden ran for president, he vowed to dump inhumane Trump administration policies on immigration, including separating children from their parents after crossing the border illegally. Some concluded that Biden would also take a kinder view of asylum and immigration petitions -- an illusion reinforced by the promises of smugglers.
    But the false idea that the US is now a soft touch is not the only reason why so many immigrants are arriving at the southern border; last year's severe hurricanes forced hundreds of thousands of Central Americans to evacuate, destroyed livelihoods and worsened already grave economic conditions in nations plagued by crime and violence.
      Facts and truth quickly go missing when it comes to an issue as politically radioactive in the United States as immigration, which launched Donald Trump's demagogic quest for the White House. Republicans keen to deflect attention from Biden's successful Covid-19 rescue bill and a quickening vaccine drive are flocking to the border. House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy warned that migrants from Yemen, Iran, Sri Lanka and "even" Chinese were sneaking across, in the kind of racial rhetoric designed to scare White Americans that Trump perfected.
          The White House has looked slow off the mark, refusing to admit publicly that the situation is what it is: a crisis. It is now rushing personnel to the Southwest, opening holding centers for child migrants and warning in multiple outlets, including Spanish-language radio, that people shouldn't rush the border. But than thousands of kids have been being held in rudimentary US Border Patrol custody facilities, some for many days longer than the law permits, crowded in with limited access to showers or sunlight.
          More than 100,000 undocumented migrants were apprehended crossing the border in the last month. Figuring out how to deal with them is not as tough as getting injections in the arms of nearly 330 million Americans, but to alleviate a desperate humanitarian crisis -- and for his own political good -- Biden needs to get a handle on the border situation ASAP.