Over 212,000 migrant encounters at US border in July, DHS chief says

Migrants hoping to reach the U.S. border walk alongside a highway in Chiquimula, Guatemala, Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021. Honduran migrants pushed their way into Guatemala Friday night without registering, a portion of a larger migrant caravan that had left the Honduran city of San Pedro Sula before dawn, Guatemalan authorities said. (AP Photo/Sandra Sebastian)

More than 212,000 migrants were encountered in July, according to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. This is the latest month in which border numbers have skyrocketed under the Biden administration and another major setback for the White House’s border strategy, Fox News reports.

Mayorkas stated during a visit to the border in Texas that 212,672 migrants were encountered at the southern border in July, a 13% increase over the already massive 188,000 migrant encounters in June. There were only 40,929 encounters in July 2020.

He underlined that many of the 212,000 resulted in expulsions under Title 42 public health protections, with 95,788 Title 42 removals. However, this figure is lower than the 104,907 migrants detained under Title 42 in June. He also stated that 27% of individuals encountered had at least one prior encounter in the previous 12 months.

While the majority of single adults were expelled under Title 42, only 12% of migrant families were removed under the public health order, according to him.

Mayorkas appeared to admit the dire situation at the border, calling it “one of the toughest challenges we face.”

“It is complicated, changing and involves vulnerable people at a time of a global pandemic,” he said.

Additionally, while he noted that numbers had been rising since April 2020, “the increase is most certainly sharper over the last several months and greater than in June.”

Republicans and some Democrats have been putting pressure on the Biden administration to address the escalating border crisis, which includes concerns about criminals entering as part of the migrant wave as well as the risk of COVID-19 spread from the release of migrants into communities.

Mayorkas acknowledged the COVID-19 challenge and stated that resources were stretched, but the positivity rate among migrants was lower than the general population, and the administration is “building new capacity to address the situation as quickly as possible.”

While Republicans have blamed the surge on the Biden administration’s rollback of Trump-era border protections, Mayorkas has continued to emphasize “root causes” in Central America such as poverty, corruption, and violence. The administration has prioritized root causes, and Vice President Kamala Harris announced a number of initiatives to address them in June.

Mayorkas also stated that the resurgence of the American economy “and the gleam of the American promise once again” is a factor in migrants’ decision to travel to the United States. He also mentioned the end of Trump administration policy and the reestablishment of asylum laws as factors.

“Another reason is the end of the cruel policies of the past administration and the restoration of the rule of laws of this country that Congress has passed, including our asylum laws that provide humanitarian relief,” he said.

Despite the surge in numbers, which is now at its highest in years, Mayorkas stated that the administration intends to stick to its border strategy, which he described as rebuilding “safe, legal and orderly pathways for migrants,” improving processing, and going after smugglers.

“We have a plan, we are executing our plan and that takes time,” he said.

However, Republicans soon made clear that they believe the blame for the crisis rests squarely on the Biden administration.

“As record after record is broken on the border, Biden and Harris are failing Americans with the raging crisis they created,” Republican National Committee communications director Danielle Alvarez said in a statement. 

“The 212,672 border apprehensions in July underscore the failed policies of the Biden administration that have resulted in a surge of illegal immigrants and border-related COVID cases, a flood of deadly drugs entering the United States, and a rise in crime in border towns. It is time to secure our border and reverse Biden and Harris’ failed open border policies,” she said.

Cuccinelli: Mayorkas’ border theatrics hide Biden’s ‘invasion’

President Joe Biden’s deputies are hiding the huge inflow of migrants behind theatrical, ready-for-TV border inspections and arrests, says Ken Cuccinelli, former deputy chief at President Donald Trump’s Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

“This entire charade is intended to fool the American people into believing this administration is actually protecting and managing our Southern border – nothing could be farther from the truth,” said a statement from Cuccinelli, who has left the Heritage Foundation to join the new Citizens for Renewing America advocacy group.

He continued:

With record high numbers month after month, this administration is doing nothing short of facilitating an invasion of this country in violation of its obligation to the states to protect them from invasion under Article IV, Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution.

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