Republicans have slammed Alejandro Mayorkas after he finally admitted that 12,000 Haitian migrants have been released into the U.S. and acknowledged the figure ‘could be even higher’.
The Secretary of Homeland Security told Fox News on Sunday that approximately ‘10,000 or so – 12,000’ mostly Haitian migrants had been released into the country.
‘It could be even higher,’ he added. ‘The number that are returned could be even higher. What we do is we follow the law as Congress has passed it.’
Lance Gooden was among the Republican’s to hit out at Mayorkas’ handling of the border crisis.
‘Why hasn’t Mayorkas been FIRED?,’ the Texas congressman wrote in a tweet, detailing the Homeland Security chief’s recent admissions.
Lauren Boebert, a Republican from Colorado, also criticised Mayorkas, apparently comparing the release of untested Haitians to an incident in which a mother claimed her child was kicked off a flight from Colorado to New Jersey for not wearing a mask.
‘Two-year-olds are getting forced off planes for not wearing masks while Mayorkas just released 12,000+ illegals into the country without so much as a COVID test.
Senator Ted Cruz also slammed what he called ‘Bizarro-world Biden rules’ in a tweet.
He wrote that for American citizens, the rule is to ‘get the vaccine or you’re fired’ but for ‘illegal immigrants’ it’s ‘no testing, no vaccines & being sent to every community in America!’
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has been slammed by Republicans after admitting that 12,000 Haitian migrants have been released into the U.S., claiming that number could increase as 5,000 other cases are still being processed
When asked by Fox how many of the group under the bridge – which official figures put at 15,000 at its peak – had been tested for coronavirus, Mayorkas insisted the administration was following ‘strict Covid testing protocols’.
‘We test, isolate, and quarantine unaccompanied children. We work with nonprofit organizations to test families,’ he said.
‘Those who are in ICE custody are tested, isolated, and quarantined. Those who are expelled under the Title 42 Public Health Authority are returned immediately. They are not placed in immigration court proceedings, and those we do not test, because they are returned immediately.’
Mayorkas’ response appears to contradict comments he made to reporters a day earlier, suggesting that none of the people camped out under the bridge had been tested.
When asked how many of the group who were living in cramped conditions under the bridge had tested positive for the virus, Mayorkas said he did not know.
‘We did not test that population of individuals,’ Mayorkas said. ‘We do not know, I do not know, I should say if I may be perfectly accurate, I do not know if anyone was sick with COVID.
‘We certainly had some people get sick, not with COVID to my knowledge and we addressed their illnesses.’
Mayorkas’ comments come as more Haitians make their way to the U.S., with images emerging on Saturday of a caravan travelling to the Panamanian border from Acandi, Colombia.
Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and has been ravaged by two major earthquakes, one in 2010 and one in August this year that killed more than 2,000 people.
The Caribbean island has also been beset by political instability, which was made worse when President Jovenal Moise was assassinated in July.
On Sunday, Mayorkas continued to downplay the massive southern border crisis, saying these migrations are ‘nothing new’ and telling Fox he wouldn’t classify the crossing as a ‘flood’ of people.
Haitian migrants cross the jungle of the Darien Gap, near Acandi, Colombia en route to Panama on Sunday. They are trying to reach the U.S.
Haitians are attempting to reach the U.S. even after 12 deportation flights returned some of the new arrivals to Haiti. Pictured: Haitian migrants cross the jungle of the Darien Gap, near Acandi, Colombia en route to Panama on Sunday
Haitian migrants cross the jungle of the Darien Gap, near Acandi, Colombia en route to Panama on Sunday
Another caravan of Haitian migrants are making the long trek to the U.S. to claim asylum. Here a group walks toward the border of Panama from Colombia on Saturday
Haitian migrants sail on Saturday from Colombia to Panama as another caravan makes its way to the U.S. southern border amid an already overwhelming surge
The area where the encampment of Haitian migrants stood just days early is seen empty on Saturday, allowing the Del Rio Port of Entry to reopen after being closed for a week
Almost all of the mostly Haitian migrants who set up camp near the Del Rio International Bridge this month left as of Saturday
He did, however, acknowledge that the U.S. immigration system needed to be reformed.
‘Eleven million people in this country without lawful presence is a compelling reason why there is unanimity about the fact that our immigration system is broken and legislative reform is needed,’ Mayorkas said.
He added when asked about the surge: ‘I wouldn’t call it a flood.’
Partial information was released by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) this week about the status of the thousands of mostly Haitian migrants who crossed into Del Rio, Texas over the last few weeks.
Those figures, however, only accounted for only 10,000 migrants – meaning at least another 5,000 people were unaccounted for.
The information DHS did release on Thursday showed that 1,401 migrants were sent back to Haiti on 12 different flights, 3,206 remained in custody, and 5,000 were still camped out beneath the Del Rio International Bridge.
‘Why didn’t you stop them from coming into the country?’ Fox host Chris Wallace asked Mayorkas on Sunday.
‘We did. We encountered them as they gathered – they assembled in that one location in Del Rio, Texas, and we applied the laws,’ he responded.
‘My question is why did you allow them in the country in the first place?’ Wallace clarified. ‘Why didn’t you build – forgive me, a wall or a fence to stop them from walking – this flood of people coming across the dam, it looks like a highway that allows them to cross the Rio Grande.’
Mayorkas responded: ‘It is the policy of this administration – we do not agree with the building of the wall. The law provides that individuals can make a claim for humanitarian relief.’
‘That is actually one of our proudest traditions,’ he added.
Migrants cross a river on horse-drawn wagons on Saturday as they head for the northern border Colombia shares with Panama
Migrants walk toward the border where they will wait in port town of Acandi, Colombia where they will wait for a boat to take them north so they can continue the dangerous trek to the U.S.
Many of these mostly Haitian migrants get stranded in the Colombia port awaiting a boat out to cross into neighboring Panama to make their way to the U.S. to claim asylum
Migrants set up a makeshift camp on Saturday evening as they travel to the northern-est border of Colombia to await boat transportation to Panama
Many Haitian migrants who have been camped out in South and Central American countries for months – and some for years – claim they now feel it’s time to make the trek to the U.S. due to a perception that President Biden’s immigration policies will be more favorable than those of former president Donald Trump.
Even though Mayorkas and the administration insist the border is ‘closed,’ migrants can cross the border and claim asylum, which kicks off a process that can allow them to remain in the U.S. while their case is being considered.
Last weekend, DHS ramped up deportation efforts by beginning removal flights back to Haiti.
This caused many migrants to trek back into Mexico from Del Rio to avoid deportation to their homeland, but the vast majority of people are still in the U.S. and – it is now known – have been released from custody.
Customs and Border Protection garnered an immense amount of backlash for carrying out the deportation and deterrence efforts after images emerged of agents on horseback appearing to use reins as whips against the migrants.
Included in the backlash was Representative Maxine Waters of California who claimed the ‘whipping’ images are ‘worse than slavery’ and fellow black Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, who suggested the actions were counterintuitive to the Black Lives Matter movement as they were used on black Haitian migrants.
Haitian migrants walk on Saturday as they make their way to the transport point to Panama
In response, the White House announced on Thursday that it would no longer allow Border Patrol agents in Del Rio to ride on horseback. Mayorkas also announced that the agents in the images had been reassigned to administrative duties while an investigation into their actions is carried out.
Agents have said they were using the split reins to direct their horses or to ward off immigrants – not to whip them.
The photographer who took the images of the agents on horseback, Paul Ratje, said that he did not witness any agents use reins to whip migrants.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott on Sunday offered those federal agents facing reprimanding a job in the Lone Star State protecting its border with Mexico.
‘Are you at all troubled by the images of these officers on horseback very aggressively pushing back on the Haitian immigrants coming across?’ Fox News Chris Wallace asked Abbott on Fox News Sunday.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott offered on Sunday to give the federal agents jobs in his state protecting the border if they are fired
‘Several quick points. First, they wouldn’t have been in that situation had the Biden administration enforced the immigration laws and secured the border in the first place,’ Abbott shot back.
‘Second, as you know, Chris, the person who took those pictures said that the characterization that the Democrats have made about the Border Patrol using them as whips, whipping people who were coming across the border is false. They were simply maneuvering horses.’
‘But the last thing I will tell you is what the president said, going after the Border Patrol, who were risking their lives and working so hard to try to secure the border, if he takes any action against them whatsoever, I have worked side-by-side with those Border Patrol agents,’ Abbott continued.
‘I want them to know something. If they are at risk of losing their job at a (sic) president who is abandoning his duty to secure the border, you have a job in the state of Texas,’ he said. ‘I will hire you to help Texas secure our border.
President Joe Biden ‘promised’ last week that ‘those people will pay,’ when talking about his border enforcement agents who were pictured on horseback.