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Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, in a new video, is warning that already historic border numbers are likely to rise further — while telling migrants considering traveling to the U.S. not to come.
Mayorkas appeared in the video, posted Tuesday, days after a Louisiana district court blocked the Biden administration from ending border expulsions under the Title 42 public health order — under which a majority of migrants have been removed since March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Numbers had been high at the border, with more than 234,000 encounters in April alone, ahead of the expected ending of the order. But Mayorkas, after the legal defeat for the administration, stressed that nothing would be changing.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas visited the U.S. southern border, Tuesday, May 17, 2022. Mayorkas is warning migrants not to come to the U.S. as the ongoing crisis has overwhelmed agents. (Pool video)
“The restrictions at our Southwest border have not changed,” he said, saying that migrants could still be expelled via either Title 42 or be deported if they did not establish an asylum claim.
Mayorkas conceded that Border Patrol is dealing with “numbers at historic levels.” But, he said that it was due to people “fleeing violence, corruption, poverty, climate change, and other hardships.”
Republicans and former officials have instead said that migrants are being encouraged by the “catch-and-release” policies under the Biden administration. In April alone, DHS released 118,000 migrants into the U.S., compared to the 113,000 they removed.
“And numbers could rise further,” Mayorkas said. “From confusion over recent court orders and as smuggle continue to peddle misinformation to make a profit: we are prepared.”
Mayorkas cited DHS’ plan to manage the migrant surge, which includes surging resources and re-implementing penalties for crossings, while also working with other countries to stop the flow. He had a message for migrant thinking of making the trip, claim U.S. borders “are not open.”
“Do not come to the border, do not put your life at risk only to be sent back,” he said.
The remark was reminiscent of Vice President Kamala Harris’ statement in Guatemala last year.
“I want to emphasize that the goal of our work is to help Guatemalans find hope at home, at the same time I want to be clear to folks in this region who are thinking about making the dangerous trek to the United States-Mexico border — do not come, do not come,” she said.
The Biden administration has said it intends to appeal the Title 42 ruling, which saw Judge Robert Summerhays rule in favor of 24 Republican states seeking a preliminary injunction against the Biden administration’s plan to end Title 42 on Monday.
Summerhays, in his order, said that the record supports the states’ position “that the Termination Order will result in increased border crossings and that, based on the government’s estimates, the increase may be as high as three-fold.” He also agreed with states that lifting Title 42 will increase costs on healthcare and education – and said the government did not dispute that claim.
“In sum, the Plaintiff States have demonstrated that the Termination Order will affect their ‘quasi-sovereign’ interests based on its impact on their healthcare systems and their interest in the health and welfare of their citizens,” he said.
The judge also agreed with the states that the lifting of Title 42 was subject to the Administrative Procedures Act, and that the government did not overcome “the presumption of reviewability under the APA.”
Fox News’ Bill Melugin contributed to this report.