Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas faulted Congress for failing to appropriate substantive resources to his department, while appearing to reject the validity of Republicans’ forthcoming impeachment proceedings against him.
On Thursday, Mayorkas was grilled on “Special Report” as anchor Bret Baier presented various statistics collectively depicting a burgeoning crisis on the Mexican border.
The secretary, who himself fled the Cuban Revolution for the United States as a toddler, remained steadfast that he has been properly executing the duties of his office.
Baier asked Mayorkas how many illegal immigrants have been released into the nation’s interior in President Biden’s first three years in office, leading the secretary to reply he needed to “correct a misunderstanding.”
“When somebody enters the country, we place them in immigration enforcement proceedings pursuant to immigration law, and if their claim for relief, their claim to remain in the United States succeeds, then by law they are able to stay here… ” he began, before Baier pressed again for a “ballpark” statistic.
Mayorkas responded there have been “well more than a million” migrants being released annually, and that that statistic proves the nation’s immigration system is broken and requires congressional action.
When asked about 300,000 reported migrant encounters in December 2022 alone, Mayorkas said DHS is limited in its detention capacity, subject to congressional funding. The secretary, however, added there has been a “historic number” of removals during his tenure.
Asked later about Customs & Border Protection sources telling Fox News they are releasing nearly three-quarters of migrants who cross daily, Mayorkas said he is not surprised, and that those who are released are placed in enforcement proceedings and alternatives to detention.
“We are enforcing the laws that Congress has passed,” he said in part.
He added Biden has asked Congress for supplemental funding to increase the number of CBP agents and new technology to no avail, repeating the legislature’s role in passing laws for his office to enforce.
“… until they fix those broken laws that haven’t been reformed in more than 30 years,” he said.
Mayorkas was later pressed on Biden’s 2020 debate comment calling to “immediately surge to the border, all those people who are seeking asylum” — as well as clips of migrants professing their “love” for Biden in turn — and whether the administration has created a migrant “magnet.”
“I will tell you what I think is a magnet, and it’s a function of our broken system,” Mayorkas replied, calling the several-year wait for immigration court dates one of those “magnet[ic]” forces.
“[That] is why precisely I am working with Republicans and Democrats in the United States Senate to deliver a solution for the American people, to deliver a fix to an immigration system that everyone agrees is broken and that is long overdue.”
When asked if he would step down if he were impeached by the House, in proceedings the Homeland Security Committee is primed to take up, Mayorkas demurred.
“I lead 260 [thousand] incredibly dedicated and talented men and women at the Department of Homeland Security. I will continue to lead them in advancing the mission of protecting the American people… We do so much for the American people, and I’m incredibly proud to do it,” the secretary replied.
Baier noted Mayorkas could potentially be the first Cabinet official impeached in nearly 150 years — and the second overall. The last was then-Secretary of War William Belknap in March 1876.