Mayorkas Says DHS ‘Ready to Meet’ Influx of Border-Crossers as Title 42 Expires

Mayorkas Says DHS ‘Ready to Meet’ Influx of Border-Crossers as Title 42 Expires
Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas speaks during the daily news briefing at the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House on May 11, 2023. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

Hours before Title 42 was set to expire on May 11, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said that stemming the flow of illegal immigrants at the U.S.–Mexico border would be a difficult but manageable challenge for the Biden administration.

“This is a challenge, and we are going to meet this challenge,” Mayorkas told reporters at a White House press briefing. “We’re going to meet it within a broken immigration system while adhering to our values.”

Invoked in March 2020 to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, Title 42 is an emergency health authority that has allowed for the swift removal of illegal immigrants from countries with a high incidence of COVID-19.

For more than a year, the Biden administration has sought to end the policy but has been held up by legal challenges from Republicans who said the policy was necessary to help curb the rising numbers of illegal immigrants flooding across the southern border.

But with the policy set to expire on May 11 at 11:59 p.m., Mayorkas stressed that the administration still had legal means for removing illegal immigrants through Title 8 immigration law.

“The transition to Title 8 processing will be swift and immediate,” the secretary said. “We have surged 24,000 Border Patrol agents and officers, thousands of troops, contractors, and over 1,000 asylum officers and judges to see this through.

“We are clear-eyed about the challenges we are likely to face in the days and weeks ahead, and we are ready to meet them,” he added.

Revamped Policy

Mayorkas’ remarks follow the administration’s May 10 announcement that it will roll out a new immigration policy in preparation for the tens of thousands of migrants that continue to gather along the Mexican side of the southern border, waiting for Title 42 to expire.

The finalized rule (pdf), which essentially reinstates a Trump-era travel policy, stipulates that illegal immigrants will be disqualified from applying for asylum in the United States if they didn’t first seek protection in countries that they traveled through on their way to the United States, with limited exceptions.

The regulation is meant to decrease human smuggling activities at the southern border by encouraging asylum-seekers to use “lawful, safe, and orderly” pathways, such as seeking refuge in a country that they’ve passed through.

“Smugglers have been long, hard at work spreading false information that the border will be open [after Title 42],” Mayorkas noted. “They are lying.

“To people who are thinking of making the journey to our southern border, know this: Smugglers care only about profits, not people. Do not risk your life and life savings only to be removed from the United States if and when you arrive here.”

Placing the Blame

But for many, the administration’s efforts are too little, too late.

“[President Joe] Biden sent 1,500 troops to the border to do paperwork,” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott noted in a May 10 tweet. “Texas deployed trained soldiers and troopers to take real action and respond to the crisis.”

Likewise, former President Donald Trump released a video message criticizing his successor’s handling of the situation, holding that Biden had turned the United States into a “third-world nation.”

“At this very moment, illegal aliens are lined up by the tens of thousands, ready to break into our country knowing that, even if they are caught, Joe Biden will order them immediately released into American communities,” Trump said. “And many of these people are very dangerous.”

Mayorkas, however, asserted that the blame for the ongoing border crisis should be placed at the feet of Congress, not the Biden administration.

“Our current situation is the outcome of Congress leaving a broken, outdated immigration system in place for over two decades, despite unanimous agreement that we desperately need legislative reform,” he said. “It is also the result of Congress’ decision not to provide us with the resources we need and that we requested.”

And when pressed on how he could say that the border was not open when more than half a million illegal immigrants escaped capture in the fiscal year 2022, Mayorkas countered: “We removed, returned, and expelled 1.4 million people last year. Ask those 1.4 million people if they think the border is open.”

From The Epoch Times

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