DHS chief says state of affairs at U.S.-Mexico border is a problem extra acute than ever earlier than

U.S. Division of Homeland Safety Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas speaks throughout a press briefing on the White Home in Washington, March 1, 2021.

Kevin Lemarque | Reuters

Division of Homeland Safety chief Alejandro Mayorkas mentioned Sunday that the surge in unaccompanied minors on the U.S.-Mexico border poses an unprecedented problem due to actions taken below former President Donald Trump, as critics accuse the present White Home of being unprepared for a humanitarian disaster on the nation’s doorstep.

“There was a system in place in each Republican and Democratic administrations that was torn down in the course of the Trump administration, and that’s the reason the problem is extra acute than it ever has been earlier than,” Mayorkas mentioned on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Mayorkas appeared on CNN, NBC and Fox on Sunday to defend the administration of President Joe Biden because it faces scrutiny over file numbers of kids being held in jail-like Customs and Border Safety amenities, together with hundreds past the 72-hour authorized restrict.

The Biden administration reversed a Trump-era coverage of expelling unaccompanied minors apprehended on the border, as an alternative permitting them into america for processing. Republicans, Democrats and human rights activists have criticized the situations below which youngsters are being held.

Critics have mentioned that the change in coverage has inspired unaccompanied youngsters to make the perilous journey at a time when the U.S. doesn’t have the infrastructure in place to correctly look after them.

Mayorkas has beforehand mentioned there is no such thing as a disaster on the border, although he has acknowledged that the U.S. is on tempo to come across extra people on the southwest border than anytime within the final 20 years.

The Biden administration has deployed the Federal Emergency Management Agency to maneuver youngsters rapidly into the care of the Division of Well being and Human Providers till they’re positioned with a member of the family within the U.S. or a sponsor as their immigration instances proceed.

NBC Information and different media organizations have been denied access to the facilities where the unaccompanied children are being held. Requests for photographs contained in the amenities have additionally been denied.

Mayorkas mentioned Sunday that his division would grant media entry to Border Patrol amenities when it may achieve this in a secure method below Covid-19 well being protocols. The Trump administration allowed media entry to amenities on the top of controversy surrounding its little one separation coverage in 2018.

After visiting a border facility, Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., wrote on Twitter on Friday that he “fought again tears” speaking to a 13-year-old lady who defined by means of a translator “how terrified she was, having been separated from her grandmother and with out her mother and father.”

Mayorkas, pressed to supply a time frame for when the federal authorities would be capable of have the border state of affairs below management, declined to take action. He mentioned that the aim was to have the ability to meet the 72-hour time restrict as quickly as potential.

“I’ve mentioned repeatedly, from the very outset, {that a} Border Patrol station isn’t any place for a kid and that’s the reason we’re working across the clock to maneuver these youngsters out of the Border Patrol amenities, into the care and custody of the Division of Well being and Human Providers that shelters them,” Mayorkas mentioned.

There have been 5,049 unaccompanied youngsters in CBP custody as of Saturday, NBC News reported.

Mayorkas mentioned that the Biden administration’s strategy was extra humane than the one taken below Trump. Addressing Murphy’s tweet, Mayorkas mentioned that the 13-year-old lady would have been faraway from america below the earlier administration.

“We won’t abandon our values and our rules. We won’t abandon the wants of weak youngsters. That’s what that is about,” Mayorkas mentioned.

Along with challenges brought on by the Trump administration, the DHS secretary additionally cited the Covid-19 disaster as a complicating issue.

“We’re within the midst of a pandemic and that makes the operations that rather more troublesome,” he mentioned.

On every of the three networks he appeared on on Sunday, Mayorkas repeated that the border was “closed.” He advised migrants to not try and cross the U.S.-Mexico border at the moment.

“We strongly urge — and the message is evident — not to take action now. I can’t overstate the perils of the journey that they take,” Mayorkas mentioned on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

The state of affairs on the border is complicating a push by Democrats for bipartisan immigration reform.

The Home of Representatives passed two bills last week that may create a path to citizenship or authorized standing for thousands and thousands of undocumented immigrants, however that laws faces an uphill battle within the Senate.

A extra formidable complete immigration reform bundle backed by the White Home and launched in Congress in February seems much less prone to acquire assist.

Mayorkas was confirmed by the Senate on Feb. 2 by a vote of 56-43.

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