D.C. – Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas was questioned in a Senate Committee hearing on Thursday over DHS’ actions to address the unprecedented amount of foreign nationals attempting entry at the southern border.
According to cbp.gov, U.S. Border Patrol total encounters during the 2021 fiscal year thus far have already nearly doubled the number of total encounters in the entire 2020 fiscal year – with five months left to go.
Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley began his round of questioning by asking Mayorkas if his previous comments regarding immigration caused a portion of the current border crisis.
“Don’t you think you bear any responsibility for the current crisis by telling the world earlier this year that the border was open?” Hawley asked. “Your words were, ‘We’re not telling you not to come, we’re just telling you that we’re putting a system back in place in which you can come.”
Mayorkas claimed he did not recall those remarks, and repeatedly claimed he has never said the U.S. has an open border.
Hawley continued by asking Mayorkas about the recent cancellation of a flight program that was used to expel families who had entered the U.S. illegally.
“Late last night it was reported that CBP terminated a flight program that transferred families across the southern border for purposes of expelling them under Title 42,” Hawley said. “These flights were apparently cancelled due to pressure from left wing groups. Is that accurate?”
Hawley then specified by asking if the ACLU had a role in shutting down the flight program due to the organization’s lawsuit against DHS.
“The decisions with respect to expulsion flights are ours because of the decisions that we have made, based on the reasons that we think are necessary to execute our mission,” Mayorkas answered.
“The news reports indicate that you cancelled these flights at [the ACLU’s] behest,” Hawley quickly replied.
The Senator finished his questioning by asking Mayorkas why the Biden administration cancelled the Safe Third Country Agreements between Central American countries. Negotiated by former President Trump, these agreements were meant to enhance immigration between Central American countries in order to decrease the mass influx of Central Americans at the southern border.
“How can you address the root causes of migration – as you keep talking about – if you’re going to tear up international agreements that try to address these problems?” Hawley asked.
“Would you say that the children who have come to the United States, have gone to the border crossing and have had to pay who knows what to the cartel are more safe because of your actions?”
“The Safe Third Country agreements, in my opinion, put children in harm’s way,” Mayorkas softly replied.
Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) expelled 103,900 individuals under Title 42 in March of this year – 28 percent of whom were individuals who had previously been expelled. In April 2021, CBP encountered 178,622 individuals attempting entry along the Southern border – the highest number in two decades.