The crux of the current crisis is a swelling number of unaccompanied minors being trafficked or otherwise brought into the country and who the federal government is not expelling.
On Saturday, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) activated the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which has leased a convention center in Dallas to lodge up to 3,000 unaccompanied minors in need of sponsors.
“In more than 80 percent of cases, the child has a family member in the United States. In more than 40 percent of cases, that family member is a parent or legal guardian,” Mayorkas said, describing the process for placing unaccompanied children in homes pending their immigration proceedings. “These are children being reunited with their families who will care for them.”
Mayorkas still said most of the illegal aliens taken into custody are single adults from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, who are sent to Mexico per the current guidelines designed to protect the public from COVID-19 and its variants.
In view of the fact that illegal aliens are not from those three countries exclusively, Mayorkas noted that if Mexico does not accept deported individuals, they are transported via aircraft to their native countries. Apprehending and expelling single adults is not irregular and does not represent the primary crisis facing DHS.
The U.S. is also deporting family units with limited exceptions unless Mexico is unable to accommodate them, in which case they are quarantined and tested for COVID-19, per Mayorkas’ statement.
“Mexico’s limited capacity has strained our resources, including in the Rio Grande Valley area of Texas,” the secretary said. “When Mexico’s capacity is reached, we process the families and place them in immigration proceedings here in the United States.”
Republicans accused the Biden administration of contributing to an influx in illegal immigration by enacting policies such as the deportation freeze, while Democrats and Mayorkas say the Trump White House left the immigration system in shambles.
In his statement, Mayorkas ascribed the surge to “poverty, high levels of violence, and corruption in Mexico and the Northern Triangle countries” that has existed for years.
However, he also accused Trump of leaving the incoming DHS leadership with a mess to clean up, saying he “completely dismantled the asylum system.”
“The prior administration tore down the lawful pathways that had been developed for children to come to the United States in a safe, efficient, and orderly way,” Mayorkas said. “It tore down, for example, the Central American Minors program that avoided the need for children to take the dangerous journey to our southwest border.”
Mayorkas touted steps the administration has taken to expand housing capacity for unaccompanied minors and plans to cooperate with other countries to create a process that will make it easier for foreign nationals to secure legal status in the U.S.
Meanwhile, a posse of 20 Republicans in Texas’ congressional delegation said in a letter to Attorney General Ken Paxton that Biden should be sued for leaving the public vulnerable to the coronavirus via a porous border.
They said the president “capriciously waived Title 42 protections” in a “reckless way to score cheap political points at the expense of American health and safety.”
The signers of the letter are Reps. Ronny Jackson (R-TX-13), Jodey Arrington (R-TX-19), Brian Babin (R-TX-36), Kevin Brady (R-TX-8), Dr. Michael Burgess (R-TX-26), John Carter (R-TX-13), Michael Cloud, (R-TX-27), Dan Crenshaw (R-TX-2), Pat Fallon (R-TX-4), Louie Gohmert (R-TX-1), Lance Gooden (R-TX-5), Michael McCaul (R-TX-10), Troy Nehls (R-TX-22), August Pfluger (R-TX-11), Chip Roy (R-TX-21), Pete Sessions (R-TX-17), Van Taylor (R-TX-3), Randy Weber (R-TX-14), and Roger Williams (R-TX-25).
The full letter can be found below.