Mayorkas warns surge migrants at southern border post-Title 42 is still possible: 'Too early'

 Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas warned that, despite falling numbers of migrant encounters amid an expected surge, the southern border could still see a spike in crossings. 

“It is too early,” Mayorkas said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union,” noting the border has seen a noticeable drop in crossings after an emergency immigration restriction, Title 42, expired last week. "The numbers we have seen over the past two days are markedly down over what they were prior to the end of Title 42."

But he reiterated past comments that the Biden administration is prepared for an influx of crossings and has been readying itself for several months.

Among those transitions is a new rule that limits asylum access for migrants who cross the U.S. border before applying for asylum in countries they may have crossed earlier. The rule has received criticism from some progressive Democrats and immigrant rights groups. 

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Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas speaks during the daily news briefing at the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House on May 11, 2023 in Washington, DC. Mayorkas took questions from reporters about the expiration Title 42.

Mayorkas defended the new rule and said it helps the Biden administration target smugglers at the border.

“We have not only a security imperative but a humanitarian responsibility to cut those smugglers out,” Mayorkas said. “We have an obligation to deliver consequences at our border, to not only manage our border, but to cut the smugglers out.” 

The Republican-controlled House passed a sweeping border security bill last week as Title 42 expired. The bill would restore construction of former President Donald Trump’s border wall and increase the number of border patrol agents, among other security promises.

Ahead of Title 42’s expiration, the Biden administration announced it would be sending 1,500 troops to the border to assist with an expected influx of migrants, and Mayorkas has called for Congress to provide his department with more resources for border patrol agents. 

Regardless, Mayorkas derided the GOP-backed bill, which also includes new restrictions for asylum seekers, and said it would “dismantle” the country’s immigration system.

“We are in need of desperately as a country is immigration reform, to fix the system, not to dismantle it, which is what this proposal really provides,” Mayorkas said. 

US Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas speaks during the daily press briefing in the James S Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, DC, on May 11, 2023.

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