DHS Secretary Mayorkas insists DHS won't lose control of border

Mayorkas was accused of using his plan to hide migration issues.

Updated: April 27, 2022 - 6:10pm

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Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas insisted to Congress that his agency will be able to handle the expected wave of illegal immigration after Title 42 is lifted.

DHS anticipates that "migration levels will increase, as smugglers will seek to take advantage of and profit from vulnerable migrants," Mayorkas wrote in a memo Tuesday, detailing the Biden-Harris administration's plan for when Title 42 is lifted.

"We are also sending a clear message in the region to counteract misinformation from smugglers, including that the termination of the Title 42 public health Order does not mean that the U.S. border is open," he added in his plan that included six pillars for border security.

Rep. John Katko (R-N.Y.) accused Mayorkas, who testified in front of the House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday, of using the plan to hide larger immigration issues.

"The bottom line is you put out the six pillars yesterday to cover up the fact that you guys have lost operational control of many parts of the border already," Katko said.

During his testimony, Mayorkas insisted, "We will not lose operational control of the border."

The plan states that DHS will access "additional resources through interagency agreements and contracts."

Rep. Ashley Hinson (R-Iowa) pressed the secretary on whether that would mean doctors and nurses would be taken away from agencies such as the Department of Veterans Affairs to assist at the border.

Mayorkas said he had not discussed reallocating VA resources, but said he would be "very pleased to follow up" on the question later.

The Homeland Security secretary also blamed previous administrations for the current state of the border.

"We inherited a broken and dismantled system that is already under strain. It is not built to manage the current levels and types of migratory flows. Only Congress can fix this," Mayorkas said.

"Yet, we have effectively managed an unprecedented number of noncitizens seeking to enter the United States," he claimed.

However, Mayorkas expressed doubts in August about his agency's ability to stop illegal migrants during a meeting with agents, when the situation was far less dire.

"If our borders are the first line of defense, we're going to lose and this is unsustainable," Mayorkas said according to audio leaked by Fox News. "We can't continue like this, our people in the field can't continue and our system isn't built for it."

U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents encountered more than 221,000 migrants last month at the southern border, the highest seen under President Joe Biden so far.

After his hearing Wednesday, Republican lawmakers slammed Mayorkas.

"Mayorkas tells us one thing, the officials on the ground tell us another. I don’t know about you, but I trust our law enforcement more than I trust Biden puppets," Rep. Carlos Gimenez (R-Fla.) tweeted.

"I don’t know what planet Sec. Mayorkas is on, but here on planet Earth, this administration has created a massive border crisis and he and President Biden only keep making it worse," Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) wrote.