On Monday, a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) press release stated that Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas would travel to South Texas “to receive operational updates and engage with the DHS frontline workforce,” as well as meeting with “local officials and community leaders.”
Few details have emerged since then, so what to expect from the secretary’s Thursday trip to the Rio Grande Valley – the border area bearing the brunt of the surge of illegal migrants – is unclear. However, given the record established by Mayorkas since he assumed leadership of DHS, more malarkey is what he will deliver.
As the nature of the crisis at the border was becoming clearer in March , Mayorkas defended the Biden administration, issuing a statement on March 16 asserting that they were “making progress and we are executing on our plan,” but added that it “will take time and we will not waver in our commitment to succeed.”
A day later, Mayorkas appeared before the House Homeland Security Committee to defend his and the administration’s handling of the border, which he insisted was not a crisis.
“I will share with you how I define a crisis. A crisis is when a nation is willing to rip a 9-year-old child out of the hands of his or her parent and separate that family to deter future migration,” he asserted.
During the hearing, he also contended the “border is not open,” yet was forced to concede his department was transporting illegal aliens to cities and towns away from the border without advanced notification to local authorities, and that some of them had not been tested or tested COVID positive.
The crisis grew through April and even liberal outlets were admitting the administration was engaged in a “blame game,” but Mayorkas still was spinning fictional tales as the facts on the ground were telling a different story. After his visit to a migrant processing center in Donna, Texas, in May, Mayorkas would not call the situation a crisis and, in fact, hailed the “dramatic progress we have made so far.”
Just how “dramatic” was the progress being made? In May, according to Customs and Border Protection (CBP) data, agents encountered 180,034 illegal aliens trying to gain entry along the Southwest border. By June, the number of illegal aliens intercepted had risen 5 percent to 188,829 for the month. To put that figure in context, consider that June apprehensions pushed the total since October, the beginning of the fiscal year, above one million and the June numbers were the highest in more than 20 years, according to CBP.
The upcoming travel by Mayorkas comes at a time when preliminary estimates, which were disclosed in court filings, show that in July more than 210,000 migrants have been apprehended. It also coincides with the upswing of the Delta variant of COVID-19, which is spreading across the region and the nation.
Mayorkas should be pressed on the abysmal conditions at detention centers in Donna, Texas, that he said were improving just over two months ago. The inhumane treatment is a direct result of the unprecedented and unrelenting surge in migrants – even in the hottest months of the year. One U.S. Border Patrol source told Fox News that there were 5,300 migrants in government custody and that the COVID-19 capacity levels were being exceeded by four-fold.
Things are not much better in McAllen, another south Texas town that has borne the brunt of the border crisis. McAllen Mayor Javier Villalobos recently issued a declaration of emergency due to the financial and resource pressures being placed on his town.
“It is very burdensome for our country, our city, and we don’t budget for this. We don’t deal with immigration. We shouldn’t,” Villalobos told CBS News.
Asked whether he agreed with governors who have claimed that migrant relocation was contributing to a spread of the Delta variant, Villalobos responded, “I totally agree with that.”
The incompetence – intended or otherwise – has placed intense pressure on border officials, including Democrats, who deal on a daily basis with the consequences of what the Washington Post has rightly classified as an “incoherent” border strategy. Those real-world situations have caused the administration to inch back from some of their more radical positions. DHS announced at the beginning of August its intent to continue enforcing Title 42, a public health order that authorizes government agents to deny entry to certain illegal immigrants. The administration also has restarted deportation flights into the interior of Mexico to attempt to deter recidivist border crossers.
Those measures, however, are temporary when what is needed is a permanent reversal of the approach Mayorkas, Vice President and border czar Kamala Harris and President Biden have taken over six months in office. What is needed from Mayorkas is a real and honest commitment to secure the border and fulfill the duties of the office he swore to uphold.