DHS secretary and lawmakers visit U.S.-Mexico border amid influx of asylum seekers

Homeland Safety Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas traveled to the U.S.-Mexico border Friday with a bipartisan group of lawmakers as an inflow of migrants search asylum, making a backlog of unaccompanied minors in U.S. custody. 

Mayorkas was joined by Senate Homeland Safety and Governmental Affairs Committee Chair Gary Peters and rating member Rob Portman, in addition to the chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee on Homeland Safety, Democrat Chris Murphy, and rating member Shelley Moore Capito.

The group traveled to El Paso, Texas, visiting the Paso del Norte Worldwide Crossing, “the place they have been supplied with an outline of Port of Entry enforcement actions and a briefing on the wind down of the Migrant Safety Protocols,” in accordance with a readout of the journey from the Division of Homeland Safety. In addition they visited the newly constructed Centralized Processing Middle the place unaccompanied minors and households are initially sheltered after crossing the border, and toured the CHS Path Home Shelter, an Workplace of Refugee Resettlement facility offering care for kids earlier than they’re positioned with members of the family or a sponsor.

Roughly 4,500 unaccompanied migrant youngsters have been being held in short-term Customized and Border Safety (CBP) services alongside the southern border as of Thursday, in accordance with a Biden administration official. The backlog of migrant youngsters in Border Patrol custody has steadily elevated over the previous week.

The variety of unaccompanied migrant youngsters housed by the U.S. Refugee Workplace inside the Division of Well being and Human Companies has additionally spiked. As of Wednesday, greater than 9,500 unaccompanied youngsters remained in shelters and emergency housing services overseen by the refugee company.

In a sequence of tweets on Friday night, Murphy defended the Biden administration’s dealing with of the disaster, saying “they’ve a ton of labor forward to scrub up the mess Trump left them, however their intentions are true.” He spoke about assembly with youngsters who had crossed the border alone.

“The desperation these youngsters and households are fleeing is tough to explain,” Murphy wrote. “As long as circumstances are abysmal in locations south, folks will discover a approach to get right here, irrespective of how excessive the wall is or what number of border brokers.”

He additionally criticized the development of the border wall, a lot of which was constructed underneath former President Donald Trump’s administration.

“Seeing the wall in particular person is unexpectedly devastating. How did it come to this, {that a} nation outlined by our heat embrace of immigrants now should be outlined by our irrational worry of them? We should be higher,” Murphy mentioned. Mr. Biden issued an govt order on his first day in workplace ending the nationwide emergency declaration cited by the Trump administration to divert cash to the constructing of the southern wall.

However in his personal assertion, Portman argued that the inflow of unaccompanied minors was because of the Biden administration’s “dismantling of the earlier administration’s insurance policies without any consideration of the ramifications.”

“The disaster at our southern border is obvious, and I urge the Biden administration to supply Border Patrol with the sources they want whereas stepping up efforts to collaborate with worldwide companions – together with the governments in Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador – to handle this problem, discourage migration, and supply safer alternate options to creating the damaging journey north,” Portman mentioned.

The go to got here after Mayorkas on Wednesday defended the Biden administration’s dealing with of the surge of unaccompanied migrant youngsters crossing the U.S.-Mexico border and its determination to permit youngsters who arrive with out a father or mother or authorized guardian to make their asylum claims within the U.S., a departure from Trump administration coverage.

“Their households made the heart-wrenching determination to ship them on a journey throughout Mexico, to supply them with a greater, safer future,” the secretary mentioned. “The earlier administration was expelling these unaccompanied youngsters — some who’re women underneath the age of 12, for instance — again to Mexico. We ended that observe.”

The Biden administration has continued the Trump-era coverage of utilizing the general public well being regulation to rapidly expel most single migrant adults and households from the southern border, however shielded unaccompanied youngsters from the expulsions.

In line with witness accounts, many unaccompanied minors at CBP processing services face overcrowded circumstances, with some held for so long as seven days, regardless of the authorized restrict of 72 hours. 

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