As the historic surge of migrants hits the southern U.S. border ahead of the Thursday expiration of Title 42 this week, DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas warns that the results of President Joe Biden’s administration’s plan to deal with the influx may not immediately be seen.
Secretary Mayorkas spoke at a press conference before Title 42 ends, which has permitted mass expulsions of migrants at the southern border since March 2020 because of the Covid-19 pandemic. It will end the public health emergency and has sparked concern about a massive wave of migrants crossing the border.
Authorities have already seen around 10,000 encounters per day this week. Mayorkas conceded that he expects the weeks ahead to be “very difficult” despite the plan he has touted being in place.
“Even after nearly two years of preparation, we expect to see large numbers of encounters at our southern border in the days and weeks after May 11th,” said Mayorkas. “We are already seeing high numbers of encounters in certain sectors. This incredibly strains our personnel, facilities, and communities with whom we partner closely.”
“Our plan will deliver results, but it will take time for them to be fully realized. And it is essential that we all take this into account,” said Mayorkas.
Biden administration maintains it is making moves to strengthen the border
President Biden’s administration made a series of actions to enhance border enforcement ahead of the order’s end. The highlight is a new rule of asylum that would make migrants ineligible for asylum if they have illegally entered the U.S. and failed to claim asylum in a third country they passed through.
The administration also promised penalties would be toughened for illegal entry when the public health order ends. The penalties would include increased use of expedited removal — which carries a possible criminal prosecution and a five-year re-entry ban. It also has sent personnel to the border, including troops.
Additionally, it is setting up migrant processing centers to guide migrants through expanded legal pathways, a cornerstone of the administration’s migration policy’s attempt to reduce border encounters, by setting up migrant processing centers.
“Our president has led the largest expansion of lawful pathways ever,” said Mayorkas on Wednesday.
Secretary Mayorkas is facing significant pressure from Republicans, who have accused the administration of fueling the crisis by ending the Trump-era policy and the “catch-and-release” of migrants into the country. However, the administration continues to blame Congress, saying it has failed to provide adequate reform or funding for what it says is a “broken system.”
“I cannot overemphasize that 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,” said Mayorkas. “It is also the result of Congress’s decision not to provide us with the resources we need and that we requested.”
In the meantime, despite planning for migrant releases onto the streets in the likely event of overcrowding, Mayorkas has continued to claim those coming to the border illegally will be removed.
“Smugglers care only about profit, not people. They do not care about you or your well-being. Do not believe their lies,” he urged migrants. “Do not risk your life and your life savings only to be removed from the United States if and when you arrive here.”