Mayorkas says U.S. is preparing for "significant" border challenges

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Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas acknowledged Friday that the planned end of the Title 42 borderline expulsions successful May could airs "significant challenges" for the U.S. government, but helium stressed that his section is acceptable to instrumentality the alteration and woody with a apt spike successful migrant arrivals.

In an interview with CBS News Friday, Mayorkas said the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has erected migrant processing facilities, deployed further aesculapian unit and different unit to the confederate borderline and expanded migrant proscription capabilities arsenic portion of a months-long plan. 

Mayorkas, who met with officials successful Panama this week, said the Biden medication is besides enlisting the assistance of countries successful the Western Hemisphere to trim the existent precocious levels of migration to the U.S. border, including by convincing them to judge the instrumentality of asylum-seekers and migrants rejected by the U.S.

"The assertion that we bash not person plans is an assertion that is not grounded successful fact," Mayorkas said. "We person been readying for months to code increases successful migration; those that we already person experienced and those that we mightiness acquisition upon an extremity to Title 42."

Under Title 42, a pandemic-era regularisation enactment successful spot by the Trump medication successful March 2020, the U.S. has turned distant hundreds of thousands of migrants connected the grounds of nationalist health. 

Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas speaks during a property league astatine the Ministerial Conference connected Migration and Protection successful Panama City connected April 20, 2022. LUIS ACOSTA/AFP via Getty Images

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's determination to extremity Title 42 connected May 23 has angered Republican lawmakers and a increasing fig of much mean Democrats who don't judge Mayorkas and his section are prepared to contend with an adjacent sharper summation successful migration. Texas and different Republican-led states are asking national courts to artifact the policy's termination.

Migrant apprehensions on the U.S.-Mexican borderline soared to 221,000 successful March, a 22-year high. Mayorkas noted that galore arrests correspond repetition crossings by the aforesaid individuals, a improvement helium said DHS volition beryllium moving to curtail done transgression prosecutions.

"Those individuals who marque repeated attempts, who question to defy the law, are taxable to transgression prosecution successful due circumstances," Mayorkas said. "And we're moving successful collaboration with the Department of Justice to bash that."

Over the past 2 years, Title 42 has allowed U.S. borderline agents to expel migrants implicit 1.8 cardinal times without screening them for asylum. Roughly 75% of those expulsions person occurred nether President Biden. His administration, however, has besides reported astir 2.5 cardinal migrant arrests successful 14 months, DHS information show.

The CDC determined earlier this period that Title 42 was nary longer needed to curb the dispersed of the coronavirus. Many public wellness experts and adjacent CDC officials had agelong questioned the validity of that rationale. 

Once Title 42 ends, Mayorkas said that migrants who don't suffice for U.S. asylum volition beryllium deported nether regular migration procedures. But U.S. officials person struggled to instrumentality ample numbers of migrants to definite countries similar Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela owed to strained relations with the governments there.

Concerns implicit these deportation limits person intensified precocious arsenic more migrants arrive at the U.S. borderline from countries beyond Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras — wherever the U.S. conducts regular deportations. In March, 32,000 Cubans and 16,000 Nicaraguans entered U.S. borderline custody, some records.

Mayorkas said 1 of the objectives of his travel to Panama was to underscore the corporate work that countries person to negociate migration flows affecting astir of the region, including the request to facilitate the "safe return" of migrants to their location countries.

"We spoke of the work to negociate borders passim the portion successful a humanitarian mode that follows the law, which means that those who suffice for alleviation successful a peculiar state are granted that alleviation and those who don't are repatriated," helium said.

Mayorkas said that 1 of the elements of abstracted discussions with Cuban officials this week was to guarantee that the land federation is accepting deportations of its citizens arsenic portion of an Obama-era accord that besides committed the U.S. to facilitating the ineligible migration of Cubans with household members successful the U.S.

Dealing with different countries, however, volition beryllium much difficult, Mayorkas noted. In those cases, helium said the U.S. would prosecute different countries with warmer U.S. ties to "participate successful the solution."

"It's rather challenging successful dealing with a state similar Venezuela, wherever the diplomatic relations, if they beryllium astatine all, tin beryllium strained. And truthful we person to beryllium applicable present successful addressing the realities," Mayorkas said.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken visits Panama U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas during a circuit of the Panama Canal astatine the Miraflores Locks, successful Panama City, April 19, 2022.  Brendan Smialowski/Pool via REUTERS

In summation to collaboration connected deportations, Mayorkas said different pillars of the administration's determination efforts connected migration see facilitating the integration of asylum-seekers who are allowed to unrecorded successful caller countries, expanding ineligible avenues for those looking to migrate and helping nations clasp their residents by investing successful struggling communities.

The determination approach, Mayorkas said, is needed due to the fact that the U.S. is not the lone state receiving migrants, citing the ample displaced populations of Venezuelans successful Colombia and Nicaraguans successful Costa Rica. He said the eventual nonsubjective is to forestall individuals from attempting "perilous" journeys which could sometimes beryllium fatal.

"I visited the Darién, an extraordinarily treacherous terrain, and learned firsthand the dire consequences of that undertaking," Mayorkas said, referring to the road-less jungle portion connecting Panama and Colombia that galore migrants question done connected their mode to the U.S.

Republicans person powerfully criticized the administration's strategy connected migration, faulting it for the grounds fig of borderline arrivals successful the past year.

Republicans person said the unprecedented migration flows person been fueled by the Biden administration's reversal of immoderate restrictive Trump-era borderline policies, its much sympathetic rhetoric toward migrants and the merchandise of hundreds of thousands of migrants and asylum-seekers successful the past year.

Mayorkas is expected to face this disapproval straight erstwhile helium appears earlier the House Judiciary Committee adjacent week.

"The American radical merit answers and accountability for the Biden administration's lawlessness on the southwest border," Ohio Congressman Jim Jordan, the apical Republican connected the Judiciary Committee, said earlier this week erstwhile announcing Mayorkas' quality earlier the sheet connected April 28.

In Friday's interview, Mayorkas said members of Congress tin connection a imperishable solution to the challenges on the U.S.-Mexico border. Asked if he'll inquire Congress for much backing oregon ineligible authorities to code the Title 42 changes, Mayorkas said legislative betterment is needed.

"We are operating wrong the confines of a strategy that is wholly broken, and that is agelong overdue for legislative fix," helium added.

In: Immigration Alejandro Mayorkas

Camilo Montoya-Galvez

Camilo Montoya-Galvez

Camilo Montoya-Galvez is the migration newsman astatine CBS News. Based successful Washington, helium covers migration argumentation and politics.