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Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Wednesday admitted that some Border Patrol agents have said they want the Title 42 public health order, which the Biden administration plans to end next month, to remain in place.
Mayorkas was grilled at a House Appropriations Committee hearing about the plans in place to cope with the ending of Title 42, which authorities have been using to expel a majority of migrants due to the COVID-19 pandemic since March 2020.
Rep. Ashley Hinson, R-Iowa, referenced “alarming” numbers that showed more than 221,000 migrant encounters in March and asked the secretary whether Border Patrol agents wanted to keep the order in place.
“Have you talked to Border Patrol agents on the ground at our southern border? What are they telling you about the end of Title 42 and the anticipation of that policy changing? We would be interested in hearing what you are hearing from the agents,” Hinson said.
Mayorkas responded by saying he has visited the border multiple times, both before taking office and after, and said that DHS is ramping up efforts to get more out into the field rather than be processing migrants.
U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas testifies before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security on the Department of Homeland Security’s budget request on Capitol Hill in Washington April 27, 2022. (Stefani Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images)
“Some certainly have said to me that Title 42 has been of utility to them, despite the level of recidivism that Title 42 can prompt,” he said. “Because please remember that under Title 42, individuals are expelled. They are not formally removed in immigration proceedings, and therefore they do not have a record of removal.”
Mayorkas stressed that the massive migrant numbers — 221,000-plus in March alone — are encounters of migrants, not unique individuals, and often reflects migrants making multiple entry attempts.
“But, some of [the agents] have certainly requested that Title 42 remain,” he said. “I have explained to them, as I have shared with this committee, that the law provides that it is a public health authority, not an immigration policy, and that the [Centers for Disease Control] controls the exercise of that authority, according to its assessment of the public health need.”
Hinson said in a statement to Fox News Digital that Mayorkas “said the quiet part out loud.”
“Border Patrol agents need Title 42 to remain in place, but the administration is willfully ignoring them and inviting the next surge of illegal immigration that will completely overwhelm our Border Patrol agents,” she said.
Mayorkas was defending his agency’s response to the coming surge at the border. He pointed to a plan released Wednesday that outlined DHS’s six-point approach to combating the surge in numbers that included a push of more resources to the border and a greater use of expedited removal.
Mayorkas ended the memo by admitting that the migrant surge will “substantially strain” resources at the border and instead calls on Congress to pass solutions to fix what the administration has claimed is a “broken” system.
“Despite the efforts of our dedicated DHS workforce and our partners executing this comprehensive plan, a significant increase in migrant encounters will substantially strain our system even further,” he says.