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Republican lawmakers slam Homeland Security secretary over the border

Republican lawmakers slam Homeland Security secretary over the border Lauren Fox and Priscilla Alvarez CNN Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas faced off Wednesday with Republican members of Congress in a series of highprofile hearings that put the secretary and the administrations immigration policies in the spotlight ahead of the midterm elections. Republican Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas took issue with Mayorkas assertion that the USMexico border was well managed saying the situation was out of control.

I would have to say that Ive never seen the border more broken McCaul said Wednesday. It is not under operational control. It is out of control. Earlier Wednesday Mayorkas told lawmakers that the department had effectively managed the flow of migrants at the USMexico border with the resources at its disposal. We inherited a broken and dismantled system that is already under strain. It is not built to manage the current levels and types of migratory flows. Only Congress can fix this Mayorkas said at the Appropriations subcommittee hearing. Yet we have effectively managed an unprecedented number of noncitizens seeking to enter the United States and interdicted more drugs and disrupted more smuggling operations than ever before.

Mayorkas testified Wednesday before a subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee and the House Homeland Security Committee. On Thursday he will sit before the House Judiciary Committee. The hearings are part of Mayorkas routine efforts to request funding for his department and for Congress to provide oversight. Border authorities have been facing increasing numbers of migrants at the USMexico border. In March US Customs and Border Protection encountered more than 221000 migrants according to agency data. That includes repeat crossers. While officials recognize the strain on the system Mayorkas stressed theyve been deploying additional resources to assist with the flow.

The hearings come as the administration is facing increasing criticism from Republicans and some Democrats about its approach to ending a Trumpera pandemic restriction known as Title 42 on the USMexico border. That authority allows border officials to immediately send migrants back to their home country citing a public health emergency. The Biden administration announced in McCaul voiced the concerns from many of the GOP about the influx of migrants at the US southern border arguing that repealing Trumpera policies had contributed to the increased flow. McCaul cited the remain in Mexico policy a program launched under the Trump administration that required nonMexican migrants to stay in Mexico until their US immigration court date. Dont rescind what was working he said. Republican Rep. Clay Higgins of Louisiana echoed McCaul and targeted Mayorkas assertion that the border is effectively managed. How would you identify failure Higgins said later adding that Mayorkas will face impeachment next year if the GOP takes control of Congress.

The Biden administrations decision over Title 42 has also sparked frustration by some in the Presidents own party with members calling for a delay in the decision and others calling on the administration to deliver a more detailed strategy of how they plan to grapple with a potential increase in immigration once the order is lifted. We need an immigration policy we truly do. And 42 should not be done away with until we get an immigration policy or until the CDC basically says we do not have a health crisis. With a health crisis we cant take any more chance of people coming undocumented and unchecked. And thats all. Its very simple West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin a Democrat said Tuesday. On Tuesday Mayorkas sought to quell those concerns hosting a call with members laying out his agencys plan to stem the flow of migrants at the Southern border.

Earlier in the week a federal judge in Louisiana temporarily blocked the administrations decision to end Title 42. A senior administration official told reporters Tuesday that the administration will comply when the court issues its order and in the meantime is preparing for restrictions to end. According to a Department of Homeland Security memo issued Tuesday US Customs and Border Protection deployed 600 officers and agents to the USMexico border and is expanding its capacity to hold around 18000 migrants in custody up from 13000 among a slew of other measures. The administration which began offering Covid19 vaccines to migrants earlier this year is expanding sites to 24 locations to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus by May 23. The department added that it will administer consequences to migrants who dont have claims of asylum by removing them detaining single adults when appropriate as well as accelerating asylum adjudications. This story and headline have been updated with additional developments Wednesday.

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