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Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas recently acknowledged that the number of migrants crossing the southern border under his leadership surpasses that of the Trump administration. He attributed the border crisis to various hemispheric factors and a “broken” system. The U.S. has witnessed over 2.4 million migrant encounters in FY 23, with projections indicating this number could be exceeded in FY 24. Mayorkas highlighted the global scale of displacement and cited reasons such as violence, insecurity, poverty, corruption, authoritarian regimes, and extreme weather events as contributing factors to migration globally.

Mayorkas emphasized that the challenges of migration are not exclusive to the southern border or the Western Hemisphere, but are a global issue. He pointed out that the U.S. is a preferred destination due to its swift response to COVID, job opportunities, and a flawed immigration system. Mayorkas noted that the average time between encounters and the adjudication of asylum claims is seven years, underscoring the broken nature of the immigration system. He also acknowledged that the number of migrants crossing the border since President Biden took office is several million, surpassing the numbers seen during the previous administration.

While the Biden administration has defended its immigration policies, including imposing consequences for illegal entry and creating pathways for lawful migration, Republicans have blamed the administration for the border crisis. They argue that rolling back Trump-era policies has contributed to the surge in migration. House Republicans passed their own border security bill, which aims to restart border wall construction and limit asylum claims. They also impeached Mayorkas earlier in the year, although the articles of impeachment have not been taken up in the Senate for a trial.

Mayorkas highlighted a recent decline in migrant encounters, with 179,725 encounters in April, compared to over 211,000 in April 2023. The administration has called for reform and additional funding from Congress to address the border crisis. They have also pointed to the significant number of removals or returns of illegal immigrants since May 2023, surpassing the numbers seen in previous fiscal years. The administration emphasizes a combination of consequences for illegal entry and lawful pathways for migration as part of its strategy to address the border situation.

Overall, the border crisis continues to be a pressing issue with complex factors contributing to the surge in migration. Mayorkas acknowledges the challenges faced in securing the border and addressing the root causes of migration. While the Biden administration defends its record on immigration, Republicans push for stricter measures and blame the administration for the crisis. Efforts to reform the immigration system and provide additional resources are ongoing, but the situation remains a contentious issue with no easy solutions in sight.

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