‘One of The Toughest Challenges’: DHS Chief Mayorkas Says 212,672 Migrants Encountered In July
22:08 GMT 12.08.2021 (Updated: 13:55 GMT 06.08.2022)
US border agencies, overwhelmed by an immigration wave over the last few months, encountered some 188,000 migrants in June and 172,000 in May, a notable increase compared with the estimated 78,000 encounters in January.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, while visiting the US border with Mexico in Texas, on Thursday announced a 13-percent increase in migrant encounters over the last month. He said that 212,672 people were encountered by border agents, in comparison with some 188,000 apprehensions in June.
Mayorkas specified that 95,788 migrants were deported under the Title 42 public health protections that authorize the Border Patrol to rapidly expel people from countries with high COVID rates and a poor pandemic response. In June, 104,907 migrants were turned away under Title 42.
Mayorkas, who earlier faced a motion from a GOP congressman to be impeached, admitted that the situation at the border was worrying, describing it as "one of the toughest challenges we face."
"It is complicated, changing and involves vulnerable people at a time of a global pandemic," he said. "The increase is most certainly sharper over the last several months and greater than in June."
On Thursday, Mayorkas held a press conference in Brownsville, Texas, during an official visit to the border, also meeting with top local Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials.
A Border Crisis
Multiple waves of migrants have been approaching the southern US border since 2020, not only forced to leave their countries due to political instability and deep economic hardship caused in part by natural disasters and a global pandemic, but also attracted by Biden’s relaxed immigration policies.
© REUTERS / JOSE LUIS GONZALEZA migrant from Central America is detained by a U.S. Border Patrol agent after crossing into the United States from Mexico, in Sunland Park, New Mexico, U.S., July 22, 2021.
A migrant from Central America is detained by a U.S. Border Patrol agent after crossing into the United States from Mexico, in Sunland Park, New Mexico, U.S., July 22, 2021.
© REUTERS / JOSE LUIS GONZALEZ
The current administration stirred harsh backlash from the GOP for reversing a number of strict Trump-era border policies, including the 'Remain in Mexico' program, border wall construction and deportations. Biden has allowed unaccompanied migrant children to enter the country and restarted a so-called 'catch and release' policy.
The migrant monthly influx over the summer months has soared, compared with the same period last year, increasing by approximately 80 percent. According to Reuters, the total number of migrant encounters this fiscal year is expected to be the highest since 2000, when US authorities encountered an estimated 1.7 million aliens.
The current border crisis at the hands of an unprecedented migration surge has been called by some a "humanitarian crisis". US border authorities experience difficulties not only with the surging number of encounters with illegal migrants that are trying to evade law enforcement and sneak into the US, but also with those aliens who are held at border facilities.
Currently, it is thought that over 15,000 migrants are being held at temporary detention facilities, and agencies have faced a lack of funding, qualified personnel and space, not only for adult migrants but also for unaccompanied minors, who were reported to be held at facilities without proper care and without due regard for anti-pandemic safety protocols.
Despite the fact that the US administration has dropped a number of its initiatives related to further easing migration restrictions and messaging immigrants “not to come to the US,” it remains the subject of opposition criticism for its handling of the crisis.