Homeland Security Chief Warns Border Could Still See Surge After Title 42 End

U.S. border patrol agents have seen a 50 percent drop in the number of border crossers since the pandemic-era immigration policy known as Title 42 expired at midnight on Thursday, said Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas in a Sunday morning interview.

“Over the past two days, the United States Border Patrol has experienced a 50 percent drop in the number of encounters versus what we were experiencing earlier in the week before Title 42 ended at midnight on Thursday,” Mayorkas told CNN’s “State of the Union” program. “It is still early. We are in day three. But we have been planning for this transition for months and months.”

However, despite such claims from Mayorkas and other Biden administration officials, Republicans described what’s unfolding at the border as catastrophic. On Saturday, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told Fox News that Mayorkas “is lying” about the “chaos and catastrophic results at the border.”

There have been widespread bipartisan concerns that the ending of Title 42, which has been in effect for the past three years, would spur a significant increase in illegal immigration amid reports that large caravans with people are heading from Mexico and Central America to the U.S. border. Multiple Texas counties along the border have also declared emergencies over the anticipated spike in illegal immigration.

Mayorkas said that U.S. Border Patrol agents had about 6,300 encounters with border-crossers on Friday and another 4,200 on Saturday. That’s compared with more than 10,000 shortly before Title 42’s expiration.

Despite that, however, Mayorkas warned that a surge across the border is still possible. “It is too early,” he cautioned on Sunday’s show.

“We have not only a security imperative but a humanitarian responsibility to cut those smugglers out,” Mayorkas said in defending a new rule that would prevent more human smuggling across the border. “We have an obligation to deliver consequences at our border, to not only manage our border, but to cut the smugglers out.”

Republicans have criticized Mayorkas and President Joe Biden for the increase in illegal immigration during his tenure. A bill that was recently passed by House Republicans in what House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said is “the strongest border security bill this country has ever seen” while adding that Republicans “are seeing a very different record from President Biden.”

Even as the legislation neared final form Wednesday, it had to be amended to appease concerns from the House Freedom Caucus and other lawmakers. The 213-page bill represents a compromise in the Republican conference between centrist lawmakers, who wanted to focus on beefing up border enforcement, and conservatives, who want to see drastic changes to U.S. asylum and immigration law.

NTD Photo
Migrants wait in line to enter the United States from Tijuana, Mexico, on May 11, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

The package would return to many of the same policies pursued by former President Donald Trump, such as building walls along the border. It would also restrict asylum by requiring illegal aliens to cross legally, pay a $50 fee, and meet more stringent requirements to show in initial interviews that they have a credible fear of persecution in their home country. Title 42, which expired last Thursday, was also implemented under the Trump administration despite numerous legal challenges.

The bill would also scrap a program that has allowed U.S. officials to accept or quickly turn away some people from Venezuela, Haiti, and Nicaragua. The program is a cornerstone of Biden’s immigration efforts, allowing migrants from those countries to apply to come to the United States for two years legally and work.

“The bill that we’re getting, I think, is a good starting point,” said Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.). adding: “It, by itself, would not get 60 votes to get out of here.”

He means that the bill likely won’t pass the Democrat-controlled Senate. Meanwhile, Biden has warned that he’ll veto the measure if it comes to his desk.

Also, Tillis joined with Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, an Arizona independent who accepts committee assignments from Democrats, to push a bill that would resurrect the government’s power to quickly expel illegal immigrants, without processing their asylum claims, for another two years.

“It’s clear that the Biden administration, while it had two years to prepare for the end of Title 42, failed to do so,” Sinema told reporters last week. “And in the last several weeks, I’ve had the unfortunate job of communicating on a daily basis, sometimes even hourly basis, with the sheriffs, the Border Patrol agents, mayors and even the governor of Arizona to figure out how we can prepare to deal with this crisis.”

In the meantime, Mayorkas derided the GOP-backed bill on Sunday and, without providing evidence, said it would “dismantle” the U.S. immigration system. “We are in need of desperately as a country is immigration reform, to fix the system, not to dismantle it, which is what this proposal really provides,” Mayorkas said, again without elaborating.

Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

From The Epoch Times

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