Homeland Security chief Alejandro Mayorkas on Wednesday defended the Biden administration’s handling of the border crisis and said DHS has spent $72 million in costs to shut down construction of former President Donald Trump’s border wall.
“We inherited a broken and dismantled system that is already under strain,” Mayorkas said during a hearing before the House Appropriations DHS Subcommittee hearing Wednesday. “It was not built to manage the current levels of migration flow.”
“Only Congress can fix it,” he insisted.
“We have effectively managed an unprecedented number of noncitizens seeking to enter the United States,” he added.
Customs and Border Patrol have encountered 221,30 million illegal immigrants at the Southwest border last month, totaling nearly 1.06 million for just the first half of fiscal year 2022, according to data released by CPB.
DHS released more than 80,000 of those migrants, raising the total number of illegal immigrants released under the Biden administration to 836,225.
Republicans have voiced concern about another surge with the Biden administration’s announcement that it would in May end Title 42, the public health policy put in place during the COVID-19 pandemic that allows authorities to expel migrants from crossing into the U.S.
Mayorkas told the subcommittee Wednesday that some border patrol agents want Title 42 to remain.
“Have you talked to Border Patrol agents on the ground at our southern border? What are they telling you about the end of Title 42 and the anticipation of that policy changing? We would be interested in hearing what you are hearing from the agents,” Rep. Ashley Hinson, R-Iow, asked Mayorkas.
“Some certainly have said to me that Title 42 has been of utility to them, despite the level of recidivism that Title 42 can prompt,” he said. “Because please remember that under Title 42, individuals are expelled. They are not formally removed in immigration proceedings, and therefore they do not have a record of removal.”
He also stressed that the March figures were of encounters of migrants, not unique individuals, and often reflected making multiple entry attempts.
“But, some of [the agents] have certainly requested that Title 42 remain,” he said. “I have explained to them, as I have shared with this committee, that the law provides that it is a public health authority, not an immigration policy, and that the [Centers for Disease Control] controls the exercise of that authority, according to its assessment of the public health need.”
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