Homeland Security statement about the Mexican border

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas issued a statement on March 16 about the situation on the Mexican border. Here are a few exceprts. The numbers below are 96,974 apprehensions at the border in Feb 2021. The prior high was in May, 2019, at 132, 956.

We are on pace to encounter more individuals on the southwest border than we have in the last 20 years. We are expelling most single adults and families. We are not expelling unaccompanied children. We are securing our border, executing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) public health authority to safeguard the American public and the migrants themselves, and protecting the children. We have more work to do.

This is not new. We have experienced migration surges before – in 2019, 2014, and before then as well. Since April 2020, the number of encounters at the southwest border has been steadily increasing.

Single adults (68,732 in Feb 2021). Single adults from Mexico and the Northern Triangle countries of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras are swiftly expelled to Mexico….The expulsion of single adults does not pose an operational challenge for the Border Patrol because of the speed and minimal processing burden of their expulsion.

Families (18,945 in Feb 2021). Families apprehended at the southwest border are also currently being expelled

Unaccompanied children 9,297 in Feb 2021). A child who is under the age of 18 and not accompanied by their parent or legal guardian is considered under the law to be an unaccompanied child. We are encountering six- and seven-year-old children, for example, arriving at our border without an adult.

In more than 80 percent of cases, the child has a family member in the United States. In more than 40 percent of cases, that family member is a parent or legal guardian. These are children being reunited with their families who will care for them.

The children then go through immigration proceedings where they are able to present a claim for relief under the law.

The Border Patrol facilities have become crowded with children and the 72-hour timeframe for the transfer of children from the Border Patrol to HHS is not always met. HHS has not had the capacity to intake the number of unaccompanied children we have been encountering

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