Mayorkas Defends Biden Immigration Policy After 53 Dead In San Antonio

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Last migrants removed from camp under Texas bridge: Mayorkas
Last migrants removed from camp under Texas bridge: Mayorkas

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas defended the immigration policy of President Joe Biden after the deaths of 53 migrants in Texas.

In an interview with CBS' "Face the Nation," Mayorkas repeated the Biden administration's policy that recommends migrants not take the perilous journey north. Mayorkas also blamed "exploitative smugglers" for the deaths of those 53 migrants two hours north of the Mexico-U.S. border.

"We have said repeatedly and we continue to warn people not to take the dangerous journey. We saw so tragically in San Antonio, Texas, one of the possible tragic results of that dangerous journey and so many people don't even make it that far in the hand of exploitative smugglers," he said.

Mayorkas also said that it was the administration's responsibility to uphold the U.S. laws which prohibit undocumented migrants from entering the country. Still, those fleeing often desperate situations attempt the journey north, either to Mexico or the U.S. 

So, in order to get to the U.S., people rely on smugglers often a part of "very sophisticated transnational criminal organizations," Mayorkas said.

"They have evolved in the last 30 years. In the 90s I prosecuted them and they were much more rudimentary. Now, they are very sophisticated, using technology and they're extraordinarily organized transnational criminal enterprises," he added.

Mayorkas also said that despite the U.S. laws forbidding undocumented immigration, authorities rescued 10,000 people so far this year. In comparison, 546 people, including 46 children, are missing or dead as a result of attempted border crossings this year according to the Missing Migrants Project.

There was a record of 1,248 missing or dead undocumented immigrants in 2021.

Many criticize authorities, including Immigration and Customs Enforcement, for the treatment of migrants at the border. May saw record levels of migrant apprehensions in the U.S.

Mayorkas said recent improvements helped authorities interdict "more drugs at the ports of entry than ever before" along with rescuing "more migrants."

"We're seeing a challenge that is really regional, hemispheric in scope, and we're addressing it accordingly," Mayorkas said.

Recently, the Supreme Court ruled that the Biden administration can roll back the "Remain in Mexico" policy adopted under then-President Donald Trump. The policy stated that migrants had to wait in Mexico while officials reviewed their cases. Mayorkas said that the Biden administration is "pleased" with the Supreme Court's decision.


Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas testifies before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security on Capitol Hill on April 27, 2022
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas testifies before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security on Capitol Hill on April 27, 2022
Photo: AFP / Stefani Reynolds

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