Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas denied Monday that there was a crisis at the U.S.-Mexican border, describing it rather as a “challenge.”
His pronouncement came as Customs and Border Protection reported nearly 79,000 encounters with people along the southwest border in January, the highest since July 2019.
“Do you believe that right now there is a crisis at the border?” Fox News D.C. correspondent Kristin Fisher asked Mayorkas during a news briefing at the White House.
“The answer is no,” the DHS chief responded. “I think there is a challenge at the border that we are managing, and we have our resources dedicated to managing it.”
Mayorkas also claimed the Trump administration “dismantled our immigration system in its entirety.”
“When I started 27 days ago, I learned that we did not have the facilities available or equipped to administer the humanitarian laws that our Congress passed years ago,” he said.
“We did not have the personnel, policies, procedures or training to administer those laws. Quite frankly, the entire system was gutted,” Mayorkas said.
“It takes time to build out of the depths of cruelty that the administration before us established,” the DHS chief said.
The Washington Post reported Monday that the Biden administration has been returning single adults and most families who illegally cross the border to Mexico under a Trump administration policy put in place after the COVID-19 outbreak.
“In reality, the Biden administration has continued to rely on a Trump-era pandemic health order known as Title 42 as its primary border enforcement tool,” the report said. “The order allows U.S. border agents to bypass normal immigration laws, including asylum protections, to rapidly ‘expel’ most unlawful border crossers back to Mexico.”
However, CBP officials have been detaining unaccompanied minors.
The Biden administration reopened a detention center for them in Carrizo Springs, Texas.
The Trump-era center was previously operated for only a month in 2019 before it was shut down following a drop-off in illegal immigration.
I’m not going to argue semantics. It’s a detention center. Anything that is designed as such can be argued to be a prison. These are images of the Carrizo Springs detention center that we’re talking about. This is why I said your solution is functionally the same pic.twitter.com/7u3pUGvzvn
— Eldritch (@EldritchProctor) February 23, 2021
CBP reported that the number of encounters at the southwest land border has been increasing since the summer and leaped significantly in October to nearly 72,000. It was about 78,300 in January.
The lowest monthly encounter last year was approximately 17,000 in April as COVID-19 cases began to spike around much of the world.
The highest number of encounters in recent years was just over 144,000 in May 2019.
“In just one short month, we have gone from America first to America last,” Trump said.
“There’s no better example than the new and horrible crisis on our southern border. … When I left office just six weeks ago, we had created the most secure border in U.S. history,” he said.
“It took the new administration only a few weeks to turn this unprecedented accomplishment into a self-inflicted humanitarian and national security disaster,” the former president said. “By recklessly eliminating our border security measures, controls, all of the things that we put into place, Joe Biden has triggered a massive flood of illegal immigration into our country the likes of which we have never seen before.
“They’re coming up by the tens of thousands. They’re all coming to take advantage of the things that he said that’s luring everybody to come to America.”
“Perhaps worst of all, Joe Biden’s decision to cancel border security has single-handedly launched a youth migrant crisis that is enriching child smugglers, vicious criminal cartels and some of the most evil people on the planet,” he said.
Trump cited reinstituting the “catch and release” policy and halting construction on the border wall as examples of policies that are inviting a flood of migrants.
“The Biden administration is now actively expediting the admission of illegal migrants, enabling them to lodge frivolous asylum claims and admitting them by the thousands and thousands and thousands a day, crowded together in unsanitary conditions despite the ongoing economic and public health crisis, COVID-19.”
Upon taking office, Biden immediately began to unwind Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” policy for those seeking asylum in the U.S.
Mexico was hosting about 70,000 people as they awaited their asylum dates in immigration courts, The Post reported.
The Biden administration announced an estimated 26,000 of those people with active cases could be released into the United States.
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