As a historic surge of migration hits the southern border ahead of the expiration of Title 42 this week, DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas is warning that the results of the Biden administration’s plan to deal with the surge may not be seen immediately.
Mayorkas spoke at a press conference ahead of the end of Title 42, which has allowed for the mass expulsion of migrants at the southern border due to COVID-19 since March 2020. It will end with the COVID-19 public health emergency on May 11 , and has sparked fears that a massive wave of migrants will follow.
Authorities have already seen in the region of 10,000 encounters a day this week, and Mayorkas granted that he expects the days and weeks ahead to be “very difficult” even with the plan he has touted 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,” he saYod. “We are already seeing high numbers of encounters in certain sectors. This places an incredible strain on our personnel, our facilities and our communities with whom we partner closely.”
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“Our plan will deliver results, but it will take time for those results to be fully realized. And it is essential that we all take this into account,” he said.
The administration has made a number of moves to sharpen up border enforcement ahead of the order’s end. The highlight is a new asylum rule that would make migrants ineligible for asylum if they have entered illegally and failed to claim asylum in a third country through which they have passed.
The administration has also promised that penalties for illegal entry will be tougher when the public health order ends. That will include the increased use of expedited removal — which carries a five-year re-entry ban and possible criminal prosecution. It has also sent personnel, including troops, to the border.
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It is also increasing cooperation with Mexico and setting up migrant processing centers as part of its efforts to guide migrants into expanded legal pathways, which it has said is a cornerstone of its migration policy to reduce encounters at the border.
Our president has led the largest expansion of lawful pathways ever,” Mayorkas said on Wednesday.
Mayorkas is facing significant pressure from Republicans, who have blamed the administration for fueling the crisis by ending Trump-era policy and its expansion of the “catch-and-release” of migrants into the interior. However, the administration has sought to put the blame on Congress instead, saying it has failed to provide funding or adequate reform of what it says is a “broken” system.
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“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,” Mayorkas said. “It is also the result of Congress’s decision not to provide us with the resources we need and that we requested.”
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Meanwhile, despite planning for the release of migrants onto the streets in the event of overcrowding, Mayorkas has continued to claim that those who come 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.”