Homeland Security secretary Alejandro Mayorkas says the ‘border is closed’ but the US ‘will not expel young, vulnerable children’

Alejandro Mayorkas
Homeland Security secretary Alejandro Mayorkas speaks speaks at a White House press briefing on March 1, 2021.

  • Homeland Security secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Sunday said that “the border in closed.”
  • Mayorkas said that the US would not send back “vulnerable children” who have arrived at the border.
  • The wave of migrants presents a major challenge for President Joe Biden’s young administration.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Homeland Security secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Sunday said “the border is closed” in response to the surge in migrants at the US-Mexico border, while staunchly defending the Biden administration’s policy of not expelling young arrivals.

During an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Mayorkas said that while the US was sending back families and adults who have attempted to cross into the country, it would not follow the same practice for “young, vulnerable children.”

Mayorkas said the administration was seeking new policies to address the influx of migrants from Mexico and Central American countries. He also criticized former President Donald Trump for having “dismantled the orderly, humane and efficient way” of approaching cases with young children.

“We have a short-term plan, a medium-term plan, and a long-term plan, and the president and I have spoken to this repeatedly,” he said. “We will not expel into the Mexican desert, for example, three orphaned children whom I saw over the last two weeks. We just won’t do that. That’s not who we are.”

While the southern border has long been a source of illegal entry into the US, the wave of migrants presents a major challenge for President Joe Biden’s young administration.

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US border authorities apprehended over 100,000 migrants in February, marking a month-to-month increase of 28% from January, according to US Customs and Border Protection.

Biden’s commitment to a humane approach to immigration has been criticized by congressional Republicans, and progressive lawmakers like Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York have complained about the administration reopening a notorious Trump-era Texas facility to house young migrants.

Mayorkas was also pressed about media access to border facilities, which he said the administration was “working on,” but emphasized that border authorities were “not focused on ride-alongs right now.”

“We are still in the midst of the pandemic,” he said. “Border Patrol agents are focused on operations, on securing the border, on addressing the needs of vulnerable children.”

He added: “We are focused on our operations, in removing children from those crowded Border Patrol stations to the Health and Human Services facilities that can best shelter them. And we are also working on providing access so the American public can in a safe way, without jeopardizing our operations, see what is going on.”

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