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Homeland Secretary Mayorkas blames Trump administration for unaccompanied minor surge on border

Mayorkas said the surge in unaccompanied children began under the Trump administration.

Updated: May 13, 2021 - 9:55pm

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas told Congress on Thursday that the Trump administration is responsible for the growing number of unaccompanied illegal immigrant minors on the southwest U.S. border.

"We began our work with systems and tools that the prior administration had dismantled and with assistance programs that had been torn down or cut short," Mayorkas said during a House Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing. 

Mayorkas said the former administration had dismantled facilities used to temporarily hold migrant children and programs that supported legal immigration and said it ended the Central America Minors Program that provided a legal pathway for children to enter the U.S.

The Trump administration "did nothing to facilitate addressing of the surge. What they did was they dismantled the tools that we had to address it. And they tore down the programs that could have helped alleviate the pressure," Mayorkas said.

The administration has made this argument before, which has resulted in critics saying President Biden signaled the U.S. would, after he took office, open its borders more than the previous administration and that his administration should have been prepared for the seasonal border surge, especially after the pandemic.

He also said the surge of unaccompanied illegal immigrant children started in April 2020. 

Encounters at the border with unaccompanied illegal immigrant minors hit an all-time high in March, with U.S. Customs and Border Protection encountering 18,960 minors in March. However, that number has decreased in April to 17,171 minors.