DHS Secretary defends Border Policies under intense questioning by GOP lawmakers

On Wednesday, Alejandro Mayorkas, Homeland Security Secretary, faced a fierce pushback by Republican lawmakers.

DHS Secretary defends Border Policies under intense questioning by GOP lawmakers

He was defending the Biden administration’s border policies ahead of the planned end to the Trump-era Pandemic Policy, Title42 on May 23.

Clay Higgins, a Republican Representative from Louisiana, said that Mayorkas would be impeached if Republicans retake control of the House in November.

"You have been asked to resign. Higgins stated Wednesday that next year, if the majority of members in this committee are present, you will face impeachment. "Own this item. "I ask that you reflect on this in respect of you and the office.

Mayorkas testified Wednesday before the House homeland security subcommittee and the House appropriations committee on DHS. He stated that the Biden administration had taken over a "broken, dismantled system that was already under strain"

Mayorkas stated that the system was not designed to handle current levels and types migratory flows. This can only be fixed by Congress.

DHS is preparing to end Title 42, the CDC's public-health authority that allows DHS to quickly expel certain migrants in the COVID-19 epidemic, without having to process their asylum claims. Mayorkas presented a six-part strategy in a 20-page memo. It included: increasing personnel and resources at the southern border; expanding migrant processing capacities; deporting, detaining, or prosecuting some immigrants; securing assistance by border organizations, crackingdown on human smugglers, and deterring immigration across the Western Hemisphere.

Mayorkas confirmed that DHS had consulted with CDC before Title 42 was repealed, as required by law.

Mayorkas explained that the limits of my consultation were in relation to the number and type of encounters, the maximum number of people a border patrol facility could house, how many people were being housed at a given time, and data related to what was happening at the border. Mayorkas clarified that she is not a public-health expert and did not provide any advice.

Michigan Democratic Rep. Elissa slotkin took rare aim at her party and GOP leadership for failing to pass immigration reform. Slotkin, a former CIA officer, and Pentagon official, described the Southwest border as "the last resort" to protect herself.

Slotkin said that until we address the root cause of the problem we will continue to see year after year these terrible images of border officials being overwhelmed and migrants trying to make a better living while living in poor conditions. Two years ago, all of us on the committee voted for a $4.5 million supplemental. "We sent active-duty military personnel to the border in addition to the Guard and we put them in cages and separated their children from their parents to make border policy different," she said, citing Trump's policy of seperating families. "Now, we allow people into the country and they go away, and we don't know if they'll ever show up in courtrooms again. None of these policies make sense."

Mayorkas stated Wednesday that he had approved approximately 68 border wall construction projects using $2.5 billion previously authorized by Congress under Trump's Trump administration. This will be to build a barrier at the U.S.-Mexico frontier.

Mayorkas stated that "And we are very aware of our responsibility for spending the funds that have already been appropriated to the Wall," at a hearing before a House subcommittee. "And we are conducting an analysis of the most effective way to do this while honoring President's commitment. We will spend those funds in a manner that increases safety and security.

Mayorkas testified more than two hours prior to the House Appropriations Department of Homeland Security subcommittee hearing. His testimony was continued into the afternoon.

According to the secretary, the vast majority of border wall projects are under the control of the Army Corps of Engineers. Mayorkas said that it would cost approximately $72 million to end DHS-controlled border wall project.

Florida Republican Rep. John Rutherford pressed Mayorkas to discuss the changes in DHS policy after the termination of Title 42.

Rutherford stated, "I believe if you ask probably 2/3 of the country, it'll tell them, the border isn't secure." So my question is: Are we about to lift Title 42? But I haven't heard of any plan. These are things you have already implemented. These are the things you have now. What will change as a result of Title 42?

Mayorkas quickly responded, but without too much detail: "We're preparing and have been preparing. We are implementing the plans. We continue to build. We are stepping up our efforts. We are intensifying our efforts and enhancing their effectiveness. We aren't done."

Mayorkas stated to the House Appropriations Committee, amid reports that Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection (CBP), could run out of money by July. However, DHS has not requested additional resources.

Mayorkas stated that "we are also preparing" - in the event that reprogramming is not sufficient - to request the supplement. "We are not at that point. "We are going to do our best to avoid it."

Representative Henry Cuellar from South Texas' border district grilled Mayorkas about his claims of a broken immigration system. He also asked the secretary why he didn't follow the Obama administration's lead of loudly broadcasting the consequences of illegal entry.

Cuellar stated, "If you take me back to Secretary Jeh John and Obama, they were capable of treating the migrants with respect, dignity, and at the same time when the law required that you send them back, it was sent back." "In fact, Secretary Johnson worked with me to show images of Hondurans being returned and the first lady being there. It's almost as if we are afraid to show images showing people returning home. You'll deport hundreds, hundreds, and thousands of people. But all we see are images of people entering the United States. We don't see images of people returning. There are more than 1 million final deportation orders still unexecuted, and 1.6 million people still waiting for immigration.

Mayorkas reminded Johnson of his deputy status, and said that he would put all "misimpressions to rest".

Mayorkas stated that "We are communicating strongly in the region in the nations of origin with regard to the removals that we have made and the consequence regime we have imposed on individuals who have crossed into the United States who have been encountered at our border, but who do not have any legal claim for relief in the United States," "So, we are extremely robustly communicating these removals and those consequence."

Mayorkas, when asked about his efforts to immunise migrants in U.S. custody, stated that DHS is working towards meeting the goal of "vaccinating upto 6,000 migrants per day, in over 20 facilities across border," but declined to give details on how many asylum-seekers or detainees have been vaccinated so far.

Mayorkas was asked about the Biden administration’s limited implementation of the "Remain In Mexico" protocols. He echoed his outspoken objection to Trump-era policies.

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a case that could decide whether the Biden administration can end the "Remain In Mexico" policy. This policy was implemented by former President Donald Trump. It requires migrants who arrive at the southern border to wait outside of the U.S. while they await asylum hearings.

Mayorkas stated that the department requested funding for "more than 300 additional border patrol agents" as per DHS' budget proposal. Mayorkas stated that DHS also requested funding for full-time case processing staff. We look forward to the support of this committee and we hope so.

Mayorkas stated that "We must get [U.S. Border Patrol Agents] out to the field to interdict individuals seeking to cross our frontier illegally." "And that's exactly why... we're really increasing the case processing capacities."

Sec. Sec. CBS News reported that advocates, faith leaders, and the secretary rallied in support of this program after the Colleyville, TX hostage crisis.

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