Brooke Singman, Fox News, March 1, 2021
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Monday urged migrants thinking of coming to the United States to “wait” as the Biden administration rebuilds a “gutted” immigration system — as he claimed there is no crisis at the U.S. southern border.
When asked during a press briefing at the White House about whether there is a “crisis” at the border, amid a surge of unaccompanied child migrants, Mayorkas said “no.”
“The men and women of the Department of Homeland Security are working around the clock seven days a week to ensure that we do not have a crisis at the border—that we manage the challenge, as acute as the challenge is,” Mayorkas said, adding that the “challenge” is not just for the government, but for non-governmental organizations and border communities.
Appearing in the White House briefing room, Mayorkas also took aim at the prior administration — and said the Department of Homeland Security is working to “replace the cruelty” of the Trump administration with “an orderly humane and safe immigration process.”
“The prior administration dismantled our immigration system in its entirety,” Mayorkas said. “Quite frankly, the entire system was gutted.”
But Mayorkas reiterated a stark warning to those considering coming to the U.S. southern border.
“They need to wait,” Mayorkas said. “If they come, if families come, if single adults come to the border, we are obligated to, in the service of public health, including the health of the very people thinking of coming, to impose travel restrictions under CDC guidelines and return them to Mexico—and we have done that.”
Mayorkas then added: “We are not saying don’t come. We are saying don’t come now, because we will be able to deliver a safe and orderly process for them as quickly as possible.”
Mayorkas’ comments come before Biden is set to have a virtual meeting with Mexican President Manuel López Obrador as the new administration has taken steps to roll back Trump-era immigration policies.
López Obrador is reportedly expected to propose a new Bracero-style immigrant labor program to Biden, which could bring 600,000 to 800,000 Mexican and Central American immigrants a year to work legally in the United States.
A senior Biden administration official declined to say whether Biden would support or oppose that proposal, but told the Associated Press that both the U.S. and Mexico agree on the need to expand legal pathways for migration.
The original Bracero program allowed Mexicans to work temporarily in the United States to fill labor shortages during World War II and for a couple of decades after the war. López Obrador said the U.S. economy needs Mexican workers because of “their strength, their youth.”
The Biden administration official told the Associated Press that the meeting would enable Biden to begin to institutionalize the relationship with Mexico, in a swipe at former President Trump, whose administration’s relationship with Mexico involved the threat of tariffs, a crackdown on migration and his efforts to construct a border wall along the U.S. southern border.