Mayorkas Touts ‘Positive’ Early Signs That Biden’s Border Executive Order Is Working

The DHS chief also said the Biden administration is ready to defend the executive order against lawsuits and called for congressional action on the border.
Mayorkas Touts ‘Positive’ Early Signs That Biden’s Border Executive Order Is Working
Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas testifies before the House Appropriations subcommittee on Homeland Security in the Rayburn House Office Building, in Washington, on April 10, 2024. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)
Tom Ozimek

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on June 9 defended the Biden administration’s recent executive order on the border, saying there are “positive” early signs that it’s working to bring down the number of daily illegal border crossings to 1,500 or fewer while noting the Biden administration is prepared to fight legal challenges to the order in court.

The executive order shuts down asylum requests at the U.S.–Mexico border once the average number of daily encounters exceeds 2,500, with the freeze remaining in place until the daily average stays below 1,500 for at least a week. President Joe Biden signed it on June 4, and it took effect immediately.

“We are at a very early stage. Implementation, as you noted, has just begun,” Mr. Mayorkas said in a June 9 appearance on ABC’s “This Week.” “It’s early, the signs are positive. Our personnel have done an extraordinary job in implementing a very big shift in how we operate on the southern border.”

The last time the daily encounters dipped below 1,500 was in July 2020, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Asked by The Epoch Times whether the number of daily illegal crossings has dipped in the days following President Biden’s executive order, a spokesperson for U.S. Customs and Borders Protection said the agency reports official figures on a monthly basis.

Illegal immigration has emerged as a top issue for U.S. citizens ahead of the November elections.

1,500 Daily Illegal Crossings by Election Day?

While pointing out that the executive order was in its early stages of implementation, Mr. Mayorkas was reluctant to make any predictions as to when he thinks its key aims might be reached.

Asked whether he believes that the number of daily illegal crossings will fall to 1,500 by Election Day, Mr. Mayorkas said, “We are driving to that.”

Besides shutting the border to asylum-seekers, the Biden administration is concurrently communicating throughout the region to persuade would-be illegal immigrants to opt for lawful pathways of entry into the United States, Mr. Mayorkas said.

“Let’s not minimize the significance of this move and the significance of operationalizing it,” he said.

“It requires the cooperation of other countries, which we have secured.”

Mr. Mayorkas was then pressed to explain why prior much-touted Biden administration efforts to address the border crisis had failed to make a meaningful dent in the numbers. He was asked in the interview why roughly 6.5 million illegal immigrants entered the country since he told ABC in 2021 (two months into his tenure as Homeland Security secretary) that the Biden administration had a plan to curb unlawful crossings and would surely succeed in its implementation.

“Migration is a dynamic phenomenon,” Mr. Mayorkas replied, arguing that the numbers are subject to constant fluctuations and that a lack of congressional action on border security is also partly to blame.

Congressional Action Call

A bipartisan deal on border security failed to get sufficient congressional backing on two occasions, and President Biden’s executive order came roughly four months after the second failure.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said on June 4 that it would file a lawsuit over the measure, arguing that the order would “severely restrict people’s legal right to seek asylum, putting tens of thousands of lives at risk.”

Mr. Mayorkas defended the legality of the measure in the interview on ABC, arguing that the order also serves to keep people from being exploited by human traffickers. He said that the Biden administration is prepared to face the ACLU’s legal challenge in court.

“We stand by the legality of what we have done,“ Mr. Mayorkas said. ”We stand by the value proposition. It’s not only a matter of securing the border, Martha; we have a humanitarian obligation to keep vulnerable people out of the hands of exploitative smugglers.”

President Biden’s asylum ban has exceptions for unaccompanied minors, people who face serious medical or safety threats, and victims of trafficking.

When President Biden took office, he reversed many of his predecessor’s restrictive immigration policies, but in the face of recent criticism, he has hardened his stance.

Tom Ozimek is a senior reporter for The Epoch Times. He has a broad background in journalism, deposit insurance, marketing and communications, and adult education.
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