DHS Secretary Spins a Historic Border Crisis Into a Mere Challenge



In January, 37,600 illegal aliens were encountered at the Southwest border by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers, which is nearly 119 percent increase from January 2020. That yearly spike also means CBP were averaging 1,000 encounters per day, which is a “relatively bad number” in words of Jeh Johnson, who served as Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary in the Obama administration. He added in his MSNBC interview in 2019 that anything higher would be a “crisis.”

As head of DHS during the 2014 border crisis, Johnson knows a crisis when he sees one, but what about his former deputy and current DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas? “I think that the — the answer is no.  I think there is a challenge at the border that we are managing,” responded Mayorkas to a question in Monday’s White House press briefing.

A “challenge” is a gross understatement for what is going on at the border. An official in Biden’s own Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) told Axios that they saw the “highest February numbers than we’ve ever seen in the history” of the Unaccompanied Alien Child (UAC) program. That means there are more unaccompanied minors arriving at the Southwest border than at the peak of the 2019 border crisis.

Considering more than 200 unaccompanied minors are being placed into government custody every day and a projected 13,000 will be the HHS care by May, surely Mayorkas recognizes that as a crisis?

“I have explained that quite clearly. We are challenged at the border. The men and women of the Department of Homeland Security are meeting that challenge. It is a stressful challenge,” Mayorkas said in challenging reality.

A former private sector lawyer, the secretary’s spin is no surprise. Asked during his confirmation hearings whether Jeh Johnson’s crisis definition would be used under his leadership.

“I look forward to studying the data with you and to actually being open and transparent,” responded Mayorkas. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) interrupted, asking the nominee to just say what level of apprehensions would be considered a crisis. Mayorkas repeated his non-answer and Johnson moved on to another subject.

The only issue on which Mayorkas was clear was that whether a crisis or a challenge, the surge in migrants was the fault of the Trump administration.

“What we are seeing now at the border is the immediate result of the dismantlement of the system and the time that it takes to rebuild it virtually from scratch,” he claimed.

In fact, Mexican President Andres Manuel López Obrador recently said that thanks to the Biden amnesty plan, “Mexicans and our Central American brothers, people think that now the doors are open, that President Biden is going to immediately regularize all migrants.”  

That belief is going to be even stronger after Mayorkas announced the executive director of the Family Reunification Task Force would be Michelle Brané, the Director of Migrant Rights and Justice, Women’s Refugee Commission. He also detailed the “principles” of the task force, which include allowing children to remain in the U.S. to reunite with family and receive support that “will be defined very broadly”

And by broadly, the Biden administration means “transportation, healthcare and mental health services as well as legal, career and educational services, with no costs being passed down to families.”

During his remarks, Mayorkas was very clear that the long-term goal of the administration is not to regulate immigration but to facilitate both illegal and legal immigration.

 “We are not saying, ‘Don’t come.’ We are saying, ‘Don’t come now because we will be able to deliver a safe and orderly process to them as quickly as possible,’” stated one of the key hands behind the creation of DACA. Remember that the next time a Biden administration official or member of the media denies that this is the most open borders president in history.

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Jennifer joined FAIR as Web Content Writer in 2017 and brings to the role extensive communications and media background. She began her career as a policy research analyst on multiple national and state political campaigns before entering journalism. In addition to spending over a decade writing for several broadcast and print news outlets, Jennifer directed communications strategy for a member of Congress and a military nonprofit.