A U.S. official who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive issue was referring to the surge of asylum seekers from Central America, not the influx of Syrian refugees.
“It’s never happened before,” the official said, adding that “it’s really just one of those things.”
On Thursday, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a televised address that the number of people seeking asylum in Europe has exceeded 1 million, and he said “it has never happened to this scale” before.
In recent months, the number is surging and it’s getting harder to stop the tide, he said.
The United States and European Union, the world’s two largest economies, say they have stepped up efforts to stem the flow of refugees from the region.
The U.K., which has been hosting hundreds of thousands of refugees for decades, has pledged to take more in the coming weeks.
The surge in asylum seekers has prompted criticism of U.s.
President Donald Trump’s immigration policies, which critics say have allowed illegal immigration to continue unabated.
Trump has also said that “all of the refugees are coming in” and that “nobody wants them in the United States,” prompting criticism from many lawmakers and human rights groups.
Critics say the surge in refugee arrivals is not the result of an economic crisis, but of political instability in the Middle East and Europe, where there has been a surge in attacks by far-right and far-left extremists and an increased emphasis on refugees.