(The Center Square) – Ahead of President Biden’s first trip to the southern border on Sunday in El Paso, Texas, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas again said the U.S. southern border is closed.
His comments came despite thousands of illegal border crossers pouring into the city, filling the airport, sidewalks, homeless shelters. Over the past few days, many were bused out of town and otherwise cleared out ahead of the president’s visit.
On Jan. 5, after the president announced his expanded immigration plan, Mayorkas announced the Department of Homeland Security was preparing for the end of the public health authority Title 42 after its challenges in court end.
Mayorkas also said the crisis at the southern border was “because our immigration system is broken, outdated, and in desperate need of reform. The laws we enforce have not been updated for decades. It takes four or more years to conclude the average asylum case, immigration judges have a backlog of more than 1.7 million cases, and we have more than 11 undocumented people in our country, many of whom work in the shadows …”
He mentioned that there are 2.5 million Venezuelans living in Columbia and 1.5 million living in Peru. Over 350,000 Haitians are living in Brazil and Chile and the number of Nicaraguans living in Costa Rica has more than doubled over the past year.
He made the remarks as the number of apprehensions of illegal entries by Venezuelans, Nicaraguans and Haitians have surged in the U.S. in the past few months and after more than 5 million foreign nationals were apprehended or evaded capture from law enforcement. This includes over 3.3 million in fiscal 2022, of which nearly 1.8 million occurred in Texas alone.
The El Paso Sector, which includes two west Texas counties and all of New Mexico, has experienced a surge in the last two months, breaking all-time records.
In December, agents apprehended over 55,700 people and reported nearly 33,000 gotaways, according to preliminary CBP data obtained by The Center Square.
In November, they apprehended more than 53,000 illegal foreign nationals in the sector and reported over 24,000 gotaways.
The number of people crossing the board every month are greater than the individual populations of all but four cities and all but five of counties in New Mexico, according to 2022 Census data analyzed by The Center Square.
The record numbers increased after Mayorkas reversed several policies, including releasing illegal foreign nationals into the U.S. and limiting ICE enforcement of detention and deportation policies. Nineteen attorneys general filed a brief with the Supreme Court over them; Florida heads to trial Monday in another lawsuit in which the plaintiffs argue the administration is continuing to violate federal law.
Multiple members of Congress have called for Mayorkas to be impeached; multiple attorneys general, led by Florida, have called for him to resign.
Last November, U.S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., now Speaker of the House, said “if Secretary Mayorkas does not resign, House Republicans will investigate every order, every action, and every failure will determine whether we can begin impeachment inquiry.”
On Sunday morning, when asked to respond, Mayorkas told ABC News This Week he was joining the president in El Paso and at the North American Leaders Summit in Mexico City on Monday, where world leaders will discuss “the security of the homeland.” When asked if he planned to resign he said: “I do not. I’ve got a lot of work to do, and we’re going to do it,” according to Fox News.
On Saturday, Mayorkas reiterated his “secure border” language in an interview with CNN anchor Poppy Harlow. She asked him, “Border officials have been consistently telling” a CNN correspondent “they feel abandoned by this administration, by the federal government. So why has it taken two years for President Biden to go to the southern border?”
The National Border Patrol Council, the union representing BP agents, has argued the Biden administration, which defunded CBP enforcement mechanisms while sending $45 billion more to Ukraine, said the administration “doesn’t want more money for DHS to enforce laws and deport people. They only want more money to process more people so they can release more people. Don’t be fooled by their propaganda.”
The union also said, “No administration in modern history of this country has done more damage, killed the morale of Border Patrol agents and unleashed death, destruction, rapes, murders and mayhem at our border like the Biden administration.”
In a statement it issued on Saturday, it said, “As Biden and Harris sit around DC patting themselves on the back and lying about the border, things in the real world continue to deteriorate at record-setting levels. Rampant lawlessness, dead bodies piling up and human suffering are not part of the gated fantasyland they live in.”