Homeland Security Secretary Travels to Mexico Border Amid Immigration Crisis

By Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Reporter
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. news and stories relating to the COVID-19 pandemic. He is based in Maryland.
September 20, 2021 Updated: September 20, 2021

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas traveled to the U.S.–Mexico border on Monday amid the illegal immigration crisis there.

Mayorkas went to Del Rio, a Texas border town that’s been overwhelmed by thousands of illegal immigrants in recent days.

Mayorkas was taking the trip “to receive an operational briefing on steps being taken to address the situation in the sector,” the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said. He also planned to meet with state and local partners and to speak to reporters.

Thousands of illegal immigrants, many from Haiti, have amassed in recent days under the International Bridge in Del Rio, Texas, highlighting the Biden administration’s failure to stem the surge in illegal immigration since President Joe Biden took office in January.

Del Rio Mayor Bruno Lozano, a Democrat, has repeatedly appealed to administration officials to take notice of what’s happening, singling out Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.

Lozano said he updated Mayorkas on the latest updates on Sunday morning and was “grateful to receive an immediate plan of action.”

Epoch Times Photo
Illegal immigrants bathe and play on the U.S. side of the Rio Grande, the international boundary with Mexico, in Del Rio, Texas, on Sept. 18, 2021. (Charlotte Cuthbertson/The Epoch Times)
Epoch Times Photo
Thousands of illegal immigrants amass in Del Rio, Texas, on Sept. 16, 2021. (Charlotte Cuthbertson/The Epoch Times)

DHS closed checkpoints in Texas on Friday and began expelling some of the immigrants over the weekend.

The agency surged some 400 agents and officers to the area to try to get the situation under control. It also helped move thousands of the immigrants to other processing locations to alleviate the crush in Del Rio and started talks with the immigrants’ home countries on accepting them back. Three repatriation flights on Sunday sent 327 Haitians to Port-au-Prince, a DHS spokesperson told The Epoch Times in an email.

The White House, meanwhile, directed federal agencies to work with the Haitian government and other governments to provide assistance to immigrants once they are flown back to where they came from.

Beyond those steps, “the Biden Administration has reiterated that our borders are not open, and people should not make the dangerous journey,” DHS said in a statement Saturday, adding, “Individuals and families are subject to border restrictions, including expulsion. Irregular migration poses a significant threat to the health and welfare of border communities and to the lives of migrants themselves, and should not be attempted.”

“We certainly are experiencing a challenging situation, but we are surging resources and we have a multi-pronged approach to this,” Mayorkas said on CNN on Sunday. He also said the Department of Health and Human Services was assisting and that the Department of Defense was going to provide resources; the Pentagon said it was checking on the matter.

Mayorkas said Haitians who arrived before July 29 would get temporary protected status but that those who arrived later would be repatriated.

The White House has not commented on the situation. White House press secretary Jen Psaki did not hold a briefing on Friday. Biden left Washington Friday for a weekend vacation in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, where he ignored questions from pool reporters. Harris appeared at a college football game in Washington on Saturday to do the coin toss.

Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. news and stories relating to the COVID-19 pandemic. He is based in Maryland.