Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas could not say on Tuesday how many of the 1.3 million migrants who were apprehended at the southern border are being detained or how many have been deported or released into the interior of the country, and did not even have a ballpark estimate of what the figures were.
Mayorkas also insisted he believes the southern border is ‘closed.’
‘I want some numbers here. Of the 1.3 million people that we’ve apprehended, how many people have been returned? How many people are being detained? How many people have been dispersed to all points around America?’ Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisc., asked the secretary during a Senate Homeland Security Committee hearing on Tuesday.
‘Senator, I would be pleased to provide you with that data — ‘ Mayorkas said before he was cut off.
‘I want them now,’ Johnson demanded. ‘Why don’t you have that information now?’
‘Senator, I do not have that data before me,’ Mayorkas replied.
‘Why not? Why don’t you have that basic information?’ the senator asked.
‘Senator, I want to be accurate,’ Mayorkas said.
‘You have repeatedly stated that our borders are not open, they’re closed. Do you honestly believe that our borders are closed?’ Johnson questioned.
‘Senator, I do, and let me speak to that —’ Mayorkas responded, as he was cut off by the senator once again.
‘No, let me ask you a couple questions here,’ Johnson said.
He then referenced a letter sent to Senate leaders by by former US Border Patrol Chief Rodney Scott that came after the Biden administration for weak border enforcement.
Scott in the letter wrote he was ‘sickened by the avoidable and rapid disintegration of what was arguably the most effective border security in our nation’s history.’
‘I witnessed the unprecedented seismic shift in border security and immigration policy that was initiated on Jan. 20, 2021. I believe this policy shift and the associated public statements created the current border crisis,’ Scott wrote in the letter.
‘Contrary to the current rhetoric, this is not simply another illegal immigration surge. This is a national security threat.’
Johnson told Mayorkas he’d promised to enforce the laws upon assuming office, but ‘you have not done that’
Johnson told Mayorkas he’d promised to enforce the laws upon assuming office, but ‘you have not done that.’
On Monday Mayorkas issued a stern warning to Haitian migrants who are a part of the sudden influx seeking asylumat the southern border: ‘If you come to the United States illegally, you will be returned. Your journey will not succeed, and you will be endangering your life and your family’s life.’
The secretary revealed Tuesday that around 5,000 migrants have been removed from the encampment surrounding the Del Rio International Bridge as the Department of Homeland Security launches a probe into agents on horseback using what appeared to be whips against the mostly Haitian migrants.
‘How many migrants have crossed into the United States in Del Rio over the past week?’ Missouri Republican Senator Josh Hawley asked Mayorkas.
‘So last week, I think the high point was 13,000-15,000 – it is now well below 10,000. We continue to move individuals from Del Rio to other processing centers to facilitate their repatriation,’ the DHS secretary responded.
‘We have increased the number of repatriation flights to Haiti and to other countries,’ Mayorkas added as it was revealed this week DHS is aiming to send out several deportation flights per day.
Mayorkas also refused to say whether he felt he and the Biden administration bear any responsibility for the influx of Haitian migrants over the last few weeks or the broader border crisis in general.
‘Don’t you think that you bear responsibility for this latest crisis?’ Hawley asked.
The secretary deflected to talking about how temporary protected status for Haitians ended for any nationals who arrived in the U.S. after July 29.
‘But Mr. Secretary,’ Hawley cut in, ‘my time is almost expired, I just want an answer. Do you bear responsibility for the crisi in Del Rio?’
Instead of answering, Mayorkas started to address other actions he claims the administration is taking to stop migrants from crossing into the U.S. from Mexico.
‘Does that mean you’re not going to answer me?’ Hawley pushed.
Mayorkas shot back: ‘I am answering, if you’ve give me the opportunity,’
A decreased number of mostly Haitian migrants remain at a makeshift encampment along the Del Rio International Bridge near the Rio Grande on Tuesday as many fled the area back to Mexico to avoid deportation
An aerial image taken on Tuesday shows Texas’ Department of Safety lined up vehicles along the bank of the Rio Grande River near the massive, but dwindling, migrant camp
Missouri Republican Senator Josh Hawley (right) pushed Mayorkas (left) on Tuesday to say ‘yes or no’ when asking if the DHS secretary or Biden administration bear responsibility for the crisis. Mayorkas appears to pass blame onto ‘misinformation’ from human smugglers and traffickers
‘That’s a yes or a no question,’ Hawley insisted. ‘Do you bear responsibility for the crisis in Del Rio? Yes or no?’
‘Senator, the smuggling organization –’ Mayorkas started but was cut off.
‘Yes or no? Do you bear responsibility for the humanitarian crisis in Del Rio? Yes or no?’
‘Senator, it is my responsibility to address the human tragedy in Del Rio, to address that,’ Mayorkas said. ‘And we are doing so. That is my responsibility and we are executing it as a Department of Homeland Security.’
‘But you don’t think you’ve played any role – that your policies have played any role in fostering and fomenting this crisis that has ensnared so many thousands of people?’ Hawley asked.
‘Senator, what we are learning from our interviews with individuals is they are receiving false information and misinformation from the smuggling organizations that traffick – and the exploitation of vulnerable individuals,’ he said.
‘Well, so in other words, it’s someone else’s fault,’ the senator clarified.
‘All I can say, Mr. Secretary, sooner or later this administration is going to have to take responsibility for this crisis that you have fomented at the border that gets worse day upon day and so far – every time we hear from you it’s somebody else’s fault something’s going to happen later. It’s really unbelievable,’ Hawley concluded as his time for questioning expired.
Customs and Border Protection launched a formal probe into agents on horseback using what appeared to be whips as they attempted to stop migrants from stepping onto U.S. soil.
‘I was horrified by what I saw,’ Mayorkas told CNN on Tuesday morning.
‘I’m going to let the investigation run its course,’ he added. ‘But the pictures that I observed troubled me profoundly. That defies all of the values that we seek to instill in our people.’
A DHS spokesperson said the CBP Office of Professional Responsibility will ‘define the appropriate disciplinary actions to be taken’ against those found to have used whips when preventing asylum-seekers from entering the U.S. and rounding up others for deportation.
The probe comes after widespread condemnation of the ‘horrific’ and disturbing scenes emerged of the agents on horseback chasing after and rounding up migrants who were on foot. One in particular image garnered the most pushback when an agent unfurled a cord resembling a lariat and swung it near a migrant’s face.
Mayorkas directed the CBP office to have personnel on site ‘full-time to ensure that the responsibilities of DHS personnel are executed consistent with applicable policies and training and the department’s values.’
Images of Border Patrol agents on horseback began emerging on Sunday as the Department of Homeland Security ramped up deportation by restarting removal flights of Haitian migrants back to their homeland after these flights were paused by President Joe Biden in February.
Migrants stand on the U.S. side of the Rio Grande River as they prepare to wade from Del Rio, Texas on Tuesday to Ciudad Acuna, Mexico to avoid deportation back to their homeland. Six expulsion flights are expected to arrive in Haiti on Tuesday
Migrants hold personal items above their head as they wade back to Mexico after seeking asylum in the U.S.
CBP Office of Professional Responsibility is launching a probe into Border Patrol agents using what appears to be a whip or lasso while trying to stop Haitian migrants from entering an encampment on the banks of the Rio Grande in Del Rio, Texas
DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said Tuesday he is ‘horrified’ but will ‘let the investigation run its course’
Three planes full of Haitian migrants departed San Antonio on Sunday and landed in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, which led to thousands making the trip back across the Rio Grande River on Monday from Del Rio, Texas.
In the last few weeks, about 15,000 mostly Haitian migrants set up camp near and under the Del Rio International Bridge on the U.S. side of the border with Mexico. They were using a dam of knee- and thigh-high water to trek back and forth across the border.
On Sunday, however, agents and officers on horseback started preventing migrants coming back to the camp from stepping foot back on U.S. soil. They were also rounding up the illegal immigrants to be put on flights back to their home country.
DHS also dispatched additional personnel to oversee future border patrol operations near the makeshift encampment after already sending 400 border agents and officers to the area to help quell the flow of migration into Del Rio.
The new goal from the agency is to get around seven removal flights out of the U.S. back to migrants’ homelands each day.
Migrants gather under a tent to register with local immigration officers on Tuesday after they were flown out of the makeshift encampment in Del Rio, Texas
Migrants began turning back from Del Rio and trekking back to Ciudad Acura, Mexico. Here a man walks across waist-high water in the Rio Grande River returning to Mexico to avoid deportation
Haitian Migrants wade across the water back to Mexico on Tuesday so they aren’t deported by the U.S. back to Haiti after several flights were sent back the past two days
When asked Tuesday if the new scenes from the border amounts to a crisis, Mayorkas wouldn’t go that far, instead calling it a ‘heartbreaking situation’ and a ‘tremendous challenge.’
‘I, by no means, diminish the humane issue that it presents, but I want to be clear that we do have a plan to address it, respecting the needs of the individuals and we are executing on that plan,’ he said on CNN.
Mayorkas added that 4,000 or more migrants have already been moved from the bridge camp and previewed a ‘dramatic change’ in the situation ‘in the next 48 to 96 hours.’
The announcement of a formal investigation came after outrage ensued.
Mayorkas’ comments echoed White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki’s when she called the images ‘horrific’.
‘I don’t think anyone seeing that footage would think it’s acceptable or appropriate,’ Psaki said at her press briefing on Monday.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the reports ‘deeply troubling’, adding that Congress will continue to ‘closely monitor developments.’
‘All migrants seeking asylum must be treated in accordance with the law and with basic decency,’ the California Democrat wrote in a Monday evening statement.
Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer called the images ‘inhumane’ and called on the Biden administration to ‘stop Title 42 deportations’
Progressive squad members Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar slammed the use of whips, calling it ‘human rights abuses’ and claiming the U.S. has made immigration a crime
‘Any acts of aggression or violence cannot be tolerated and must be investigated. The situation facing Haitian migrants at the border is heartbreaking, and Congress will continue to closely monitor developments.’
Mayorkas issued a stern warning for Haitian nationals trying to enter the US on Monday after he became the first Biden administration official to visit the border in Del Rio.
‘If you come to the United States illegally, you will be returned. Your journey will not succeed, and you will be endangering your life and your family’s life,’ he said.
The secretary said he’d brought in about 600 Homeland Security employees, including from the National Guard, to Del Rio to help with what he described as a ‘challenging and heartbreaking situation.’
He said that he has asked the Defense Department for help in what may be one of the swiftest, large-scale expulsions of migrants and refugees from the U.S. in decades.
A man walks with a child on his shoulders as he steps out of the Rio Grande River in returning to Mexico from Del Rio, Texas as DHS steps up deportation efforts – already sending out several planes of migrants back to Haiti this week
Six more removal flights are expected to land in Haiti from the U.S. on Tuesday. An airplane chartered to transport people to Haiti prepares to board passengers at the San Antonio International Airport on Monday
White House slams ‘horrific’ footage of border patrol agent on horseback WHIPPING Haitian migrants as they cross Rio Grande carrying food for their families
The White House is reacting to disturbing images that surfaced on Sunday of Border Patrol agents appearing to whip Haitian migrants desperately trying to cross the Rio Grande river into the United States.
‘I don’t know what the circumstances would be, it’s obviously horrific,’ Press Secretary Jen Psaki said of relevant footage from the border on Monday.
Psaki was asked about the images at her daily White House briefing.
‘I’ve seen some of the footage, I don’t have the full context, I can’t imagine what context would make that appropriate but I don’t have additional details,’ she said.
‘I don’t think anyone seeing that footage would think it was acceptable or appropriate.’
She added that it was ‘horrible to watch.’
A video obtained Sunday night shows Border Patrol officers on horseback, waiting on the US side of the Rio Grande as migrants – some of them families with young children – wade through chest-deep waters trying to cross.
Officers can be seen charging their horses toward migrants carrying food and supplies. Some of them are swinging what appears to be lariats.
U.S. border patrol officers cut the way of migrants asylum seekers as they are trying to return to the United States
The devastating images were captures as migrants were trying to return to their encampment from Mexico, where they were buying much-needed supplies
Migrants crossing the Del Rio river to head back into the US after gathering supplies in Mexico are confronted by Border Patrol officers on horseback
Other officials can be seen reaching down to violently grab migrants by the sleeve or collar.
At one point, a Border Patrol officer appears to hit a man, sending him falling back into the water.
Many of those migrants were reportedly already camped out in a makeshift tent city under a bridge in Del Rio, Texas. They had crossed back to Mexico to purchase water, food and diapers in Ciudad Acuña.
Psaki was asked on Monday if there would be consequences against the officers involved.
She didn’t say whether they’d lose their jobs but suggested ‘they should never be able to do it again.’
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki called the images ‘horrific’ on Monday
The Biden administration has been grappling with an influx of migrants since the Democrat took office in January.
Migrants began flowing back into the Mexican side of the southern border on Monday from Del Rio, Texas as the Department of Homeland Security plans to ramp up deportation flights to seven per day.
Video emerged today of scores of mostly Haitian migrants making the trek back across the Rio Grande River to Mexico from the US after three flights full of migrants from the US landed in Port-au-Prince, Haiti on Sunday.
Up to 15,000 migrants set up camp under and around the Del Rio International Bridge, using a dam area to cross between the Mexico and US side of the border.
The massive encampment of migrants has brought up several issues, including health concerns in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic as DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas revealed they are not vaccinating migrants.
Mayorkas said Sunday that he will visit the southern border, as President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, who was put in charge of the border crisis, have remained silent on the recent developments of mass migration among Haitians.
‘I will be traveling to the border myself,’ Mayorkas told CNN, adding he speaks regularly with the White House and President Joe Biden about the issue.
Other officials can be seen reaching down to violently grab migrants by the sleeve or collar
U.S. Border Patrol agents deploy a boat into the Rio Grande river on the U.S. side of the bank as migrants seeking asylum in the U.S. cross the river into Mexico
The Haitian migration crisis is exacerbated by those who left Haiti after the 2010 earthquake to settle in South and Central America who are now desperate to leave there due to the coronavirus pandemic and economic collapse.
At that time many flew to Ecuador where there’s no visa requirements – then proliferated to Brazil and Chile.
They are now leaving there and making their way up to Mexico anyway they can.
Images from Del Rio, Texas began emerging over the weekend where thousands of mostly Haitian migrants used a dam to cross between Mexico and the US On Sunday, three removal flights of migrants arrived back in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
The developing crisis forced the Biden administration to close six crossing points along the border and send in at least 400 troops to help stop the flow and round up migrants for deportation.
Haitian migrants set up a massive makeshift camp under the Del Rio International Bridge in just the last weeks, with the number swelling from around 400 to 14,534 in just one week, according to Del Rio Mayor Bruno Lozano.
DHS revealed over the weekend that it would ramp up and accelerate its removal efforts of migrants as Biden continues to face widespread criticism for his handling of the humanitarian and national security crisis at the southern border.
Biden and Harris have not visited the US side of the Rio Grande Valley – where the majority of the migration crisis has taken place.
Neither the president or vice president have addressed the latest developments or the new DHS strategy to deport these migrants.
On Monday Psaki was asked about a double standard in letting Afghan refugees resettle in the US but forcefully turning away Haitian refugees at a time when the country is dealing with the aftermath of an earthquake and a presidential assassination.
‘Our immigration policy is not about one country or discriminating against one country over another. We want to end that and we want to put an end to what we saw over the last four years,’ she said, referring to the Trump administration.
Psaki added that Haitians are encouraged to apply for temporary protected status to remain in the US.
She also said the federal government was working with Haiti’s government to help the country recover and accommodate the Haitians being sent back.
‘We have also been working to provide a range of assistance, working closely with officials from the government, as individuals are going back to Haiti to provide a range of financial assistance, to provide technical assistance,’ Psaki said. ‘That’s on-going.’