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DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. Photo: Getty Images
DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. Photo: Getty Images

Mayorkas goes to the border and gives few answers on its future

The DHS Secretary stood by the Biden administration’s policy of expelling migrants for the time being, but not unaccompanied children.

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President Joe Biden has made a lot of promises regarding the very broken U.S. immigration system, but it seems that he may have bitten off a bit more than he could chew.

This is no easy feat, especially in the midst of an ongoing global pandemic.

A major crisis has been unfolding at the U.S.-Mexico border for weeks now. There are too many people crossing over, and not enough physical space to hold everyone while their cases get processed. With social distancing and other COVID-19 restrictions in place, things have become even more difficult.

In the first week of March, Biden requested that senior White House officials visit the border and fill him in on what’s going on so that he can act accordingly.

Meanwhile, his administration has been severely criticized lately by Democrats and immigration advocates, who insist that unaccompanied minors and families are being held for too long in detention centers, rather than being released while their asylum applications are reviewed.

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, visited the border over the weekend and defended the administration’s handling of the recent surge in unaccompanied minors crossing over, even amid the major security and humanitarian concerns.

Mayorkas claimed that the American people will “look back on this and say that we secured the border and we upheld our values."

In an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” he emphasized that the administration’s main message to those seeking entry is that the “border is closed.” But he also made clear that while the administration will keep expelling families and single adults back to their starting point, it will not be sending back any unaccompanied minors. 

Even as he made an explicit warning not to attempt to seek entry, he said “we will not expel into the Mexican desert, for example, three orphan children.” 

He stressed that though the administration is processing children with safety and care, he warned again that it’s not encouraged to try to cross the border at this time, as “the perils of the journey” cannot be overstated, and are essentially not worth it right now. 

He declined to provide any sort of timeline for when the Biden administration will be opening new facilities that are adequate and large enough to handle this uptick in unaccompanied minors. 

But the DHS Secretary did tell CNN’s Dana Bash on “State of the Union,” that they established three new facilities last week, and are working around the clock to perfect the system. 

“We have dealt with surges in the past and the men and women of the Department of Homeland Security will succeed,” he said.

These comments come as the situation at the border is steadily becoming worse. As of Friday, March 20, the number of migrants held in the U.S had reached 15,000, according to a report by CBS News.

So far, the Biden administration has awkwardly danced around the growing chaos and human rights crisis, and resisted calling it what it is. Despite bipartisan calls for the issue to be resolved, the administration has yet to label it as the dilemma it truly is.

Bash pressed the Secretary again about a timeline.

“Can you give me a date you hope to be up and running so that these children have better facilities?” she asked.

Mayorkas still declined to provide any semblance of a timeline, and simply said “as soon as possible,” repeating that the coronavirus pandemic has complicated their efforts. He continued to defend their work so far, and placed much of the blame on the way that Trump’s administration left the system in shambles.

Mayorkas claimed that the Biden administration is now left with the wreckage and inherited the daunting task of rebuilding an already corrupt system “from scratch.”

Outside the White House on Sunday, March 21, President Biden spoke to reporters and said he had plans to visit the border “at some point.” When asked if he wanted to see the situation first hand, he insisted that he does in fact “know what’s going on in those facilities.”

Biden also told reporters that his administration is working on re-establishing a program that allows refugees to apply for asylum from their home countries. 

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