Mayorkas claims the U.S. is ready for "significant challenges" at the border and asks countries to accept deportees

Alejandro Mayorkas, Homeland Security Secretary, acknowledged Friday that the intended end Title42 border expulsions on May 5th could present "significant challenges" to the U.S government.

Mayorkas claims the U.S. is ready for "significant challenges" at the border and asks countries to accept deportees

However, he said that his department is prepared to implement the change as well as deal with an expected spike in migrant arrivings.

Mayorkas spoke to CBS News Friday and stated that the Department of Homeland Security has built migrant processing centers, sent additional personnel to the southern border, and increased migrant transport capabilities as part of a long-term plan.

Mayorkas met with Panamanian officials this week and said that the Biden administration is seeking the assistance of Western Hemisphere countries to reduce current high levels of migration towards the U.S. border. This includes convincing them to allow the return of asylum-seekers or migrants who have been rejected by the U.S.


 

Mayorkas stated that "the assertion that we don't have plans" is a false statement. "We have been planning for months in order to address migration increases; those we have already experienced and those we might experience if Title 42 is repealed."

Title 42 is a rule that was put into place in March 2020 by Trump's administration to prevent pandemics. It states that the U.S. has turned down hundreds of thousands of migrants for reasons of public health.

Republican lawmakers and more moderate Democrats have been angered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's May 23 decision to repeal Title 42. They also believe Mayorkas and his Department are not prepared to deal with an even greater increase in migration. Texas and other Republican-led States are asking federal courts for a halt to the policy's termination.

The number of migrants apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border rose to 221,000 in March. This is a 22 year high. Mayorkas pointed out that many arrests are repeat crossings by the exact same people, something DHS will work to curb through criminal prosecutions.

Mayorkas stated that those who repeatedly attempt to defy law and make repeated attempts are subject to criminal prosecution under appropriate circumstances. We are working with the Department of Justice in this regard.

Title 42, which allows U.S. border agents expel migrants more than 1.8 million times each year without screening them for asylum, has been in place for the past two years. About 75% of these expulsions took place under President Biden. However, his administration has reported almost 2.5 million migrant arrests within 14 months, DHS statistics show.

The CDC decided earlier this month Title 42 was not necessary to stop the spread of coronavirus. Many public-health experts, as well as CDC officials, had long questioned this logic.

Mayorkas stated that once Title 42 is over, migrants who do not qualify for U.S. refugee status will be deported according to regular immigration procedures. Due to tensions with their governments, U.S. officials have not been able to return large numbers to certain countries such as Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela.

As more migrants from Mexico, El Salvador and Guatemala arrive at U.S. borders, concerns over deportation limits have increased. According to both records, March saw 32,000 Cubans and 16,000 Nicaraguans enter U.S. border custody.

Mayorkas stated that one of the goals of his Panama trip was to emphasize the collective responsibility of countries to manage the migration flows affecting most countries in the region. He also stressed the importance of facilitating the safe return of migrants to their homeland countries.

He said, "We talked about the responsibility to manage the borders throughout the region in humanitarian ways that follow the law. This means that those who are eligible for relief in a country are granted that relief, and those who aren't are repatriated."

Mayorkas stated that this week's separate talks with Cuban officials was part of an Obama-era agreement that committed the U.S. and Cuba to legalizing the migration of Cubans to the U.S.

Mayorkas pointed out that it will be harder to deal with other countries. Mayorkas stated that the U.S. would "participate" in these cases if it had warmer ties with other countries.

It can be difficult to deal with Venezuela because of the tensions in diplomatic relations. Mayorkas stated that we must be realistic in dealing with the realities.

Mayorkas stated that in addition to collaborating on deportations and other pillars, the administration's regional efforts to address migration include facilitation of integration of asylum-seekers allowed to live in new nations, expanding legal avenues for migrants, and helping countries retain their residents through investments in struggling communities.

Mayorkas stated that the regional approach is necessary because the U.S. does not receive migrants alone, citing large numbers of Venezuelans living in Colombia and Nicaraguans living in Costa Rica. Mayorkas stated that the ultimate goal is to stop people from making "perilous" travels, which can sometimes prove fatal.

Mayorkas stated that he visited the Darien which is an extremely treacherous terrain and saw firsthand the dire consequences. He was referring to the jungle-less region between Panama and Colombia, through which many migrants travel to the U.S.

Republicans strongly criticize the administration's migration strategy, blaming it for the record-breaking number of immigrants crossing the border in the last year.

Republicans claim that the Biden administration reversed some Trump-era restrictions on border policies, used more compassionate rhetoric towards migrants, and released hundreds of thousands of asylum-seekers and migrants in the last year to fuel unprecedented migration flows.

Mayorkas will likely face these criticisms directly when he appears before House Judiciary Committee next Wednesday.

"The American people deserves answers and accountability for Biden's lawlessness at the southwest border" Ohio Congressman Jim Jordan said earlier in the week, when he announced Mayorkas' appearance before that panel on April 28.

Mayorkas stated that members of Congress could offer a permanent solution for the problems along the U.S.-Mexico frontier in Friday's interview. Mayorkas was asked if he would ask Congress for additional funding or legal authority to address Title 42 changes.

He said, "We operate within the limits of a system which is completely broken. That is long overdue to be legislatively fixed."


 

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