President Joe Biden’s administration has noted a sharp decline in encounters with migrants suspected of illegally crossing the US-Mexico border following the end of Title 42 last week, the head of the Department of Homeland Security said Sunday.
Alejandro Mayorkas appeared on the cable news circuit Sunday to promote his agency’s efforts to respond to an expected surge of migrants hoping for a chance to apply for asylum by crossing into the United States without going through legal channels. According to Mayorkas, the department has seen a drop of up to 50 percent in encounters since Thursday at midnight, when the Title 42 authority that allowed DHS to remove migrants based on COVID-19 concerns expired. .
Mayorkas credited that rapid reduction in labor meetings that the government had been doing for months to prepare for the end of that legal authority; Among the administration’s efforts has been an increase of 1,500 US troops to the border region where they are assisting Customs and Border Protection with administrative and other tasks that do not fall under the umbrella of law enforcement.
“We have very clearly communicated a vitally important message for people who are thinking of reaching our southern border,” Mayorkas told CNN.
“There is a legal, safe and orderly way to get to the United States. That’s through avenues that President Biden has expanded in unprecedented ways. And then there is a consequence if one does not use those legal paths”, continued Mayorkas. Those consequences, he said, include deportation and a five-year ban from entering the United States.
CBP officials reported on Saturday about 4,200 encounters with migrants suspected of illegally crossing the US-Mexico border, Mayorkas said. On Friday, that number was over 6,000. However, he cautioned that it was too soon to tell if the surge of illegal crossings expected in the days after the end of Title 42 had really ended.
The effort comes as some on the left have argued that now is the time for Democrats to support the idea of expanding and revamping the systems for legal immigration to the United States as a means to address the problem of the large number of migrants. who cross the border. illegally as a means to reach US soil and therefore be eligible to apply for asylum. Asylum itself is still a process that only ends with a successful admission 40 to 50 percent of the time.
Meanwhile, Republicans remain split between those who simply want to (significantly) restrict illegal border crossings and those who also want to reduce legal immigration into the country. Many on the American far right openly embrace the so-called racist “Great Replacement Theory” (or, at the very least, use similar rhetoric) and accuse the Democrats of wanting to change America’s racial demographics.
The goal of the troop surge has been to free up CBP resources for patrols and other enforcement operations in the field. But members of Biden’s own party, from the progressive to the center-left, have likened it to turning the region into a war zone.
“The militarization of the border by the Biden Administration is unacceptable. There is already a humanitarian crisis in the Western Hemisphere, and the deployment of military personnel only indicates that migrants are a threat that requires our nation’s troops to contain. Nothing could be further from the truth,” Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, said in a statement.