MCALLEN, Texas — Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas visited the Texas-Mexico border Tuesday to provide an update on the government's border response, speaking in the Rio Grande Valley days before the anticipated lifting of a Trump-era rule allowing for immediate migrant expulsions due to COVID-19.
This comes after a "removal flight" Tuesday morning. DHS said the migrants on board the flight were determined by officials to not have a legal basis to stay in the United States.
Mayorkas says a 20-page plan has been built ahead of Title 42's end, preparations for which began in September since they knew the CDC Title 42 authority would not be around forever. It also comes after an April that saw more than 157,000 crossings all along the southwest border, according to Customs and Border Protection.
"It does not mean the border is open on May 23. We continue to enforce the laws of this country. We continue to remove individuals who do not qualify for relief under the laws of this country," Mayorkas says.
Below is a brief outline of three of the six pillars:
- Surging resources to the southwest border.
- Improving efficiency of processing without compromising security and integrity of screening and vetting individuals.
- Elevating the enforcement consequences to bare to those individuals who do not qualify for relief.
"Right now, immigration judges who are suffering a 1.6 or 1.7 million case workload, now they have exclusive jurisdiction," Mayorkas said. "We are giving the asylum officers that jurisdiction. That is going to take what is now on average a six-to-eight-year-plus process between the time of encounter and the time of ultimate asylum adjudication to under a year.”
The plan's remaining pillars include:
- Working on bolstering the capacity of non-governmental organizations and local jurisdictions to address the different challenges that increase migration that bares upon them.
- Disrupting and attacking the smuggling organizations and the transnational criminal organizations in an unprecedented way.
- We are addressing the challenge of a regular migration not by ourselves but with our partner countries.
Mayorkas explained how the increase in migration the United States is experiencing is not exclusive to the country. He says there are currently more than 1.8 million Venezuelans in Columbia.
“In the last several weeks I have been to Costa Rica and I have been to Panama. And I have spoke regularly with my counterpart in Mexico about what is a regional challenge,” Mayorkas says.
He also says the population of Costa Rica is approximately 2% Nicaraguan, based on the movement of people from their countries of origin due to many different factors. Economic despair, violence and distress caused by natural disasters that all have been made more acute and all aggravated by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Title 42 is a public health authority used by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to protect against the spread of communicable disease, according to a statement by the Department of Homeland Security.
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