Authored by Katabella Roberts via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),
The number of illegal crossings at the U.S. Southern border is down more than 60 percent owing to the Biden administration’s sweeping new immigration regulations, according to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.
Mr. Mayorkas made the comments in an interview at Aspen Security Forum in Colorado on July 20.
The Homeland Security Secretary said officials have seen an approximately 65 percent drop in the number of people encountered at the border since Title 42—the Trump-era policy that allowed Border Patrol agents to turn illegal aliens back to Mexico immediately if they were deemed to pose a health threat amid the COVID-19 pandemic—came to an end.
Title 42 expired in May, prompting widespread concerns that illegal border crossings into the United States would surge.
“We have built lawful pathways for individuals so that they do not need to take that dangerous journey to our Southern border in pursuit of humanitarian relief, ” Mr. Mayorkas said. “We have accelerated our refugee processing, we have instituted family reunification programs, we use our discretionary authority under humanitarian parole and we are meeting people where they are,” he continued.
“At the same time, we have sought to disincentivize people from taking that dangerous journey and we raised the evidentiary threshold that one must meet to make an asylum claim at the border,” Mr. Mayorkas said.
The Biden administration has rolled out a string of initiatives aimed at deterring illegal border crossings since Title 42 came to an end, including a regulation under which most immigrants are presumed ineligible for asylum if they passed through other nations without seeking protection elsewhere first, or if they failed to use legal pathways for U.S. entry.
Border Patrol Data Shows Encounters Down
The administration had also expanded access to CBP One, an app that allows migrants to schedule an appointment to approach a border port of entry, and in some cases, has fitted members of immigrant families who cross the U.S.–Mexico border illegally and seek asylum with a GPS ankle monitor so that Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials can continuously track them.
However, Mr. Biden has also been criticized for allowing up to 100,000 individuals from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador into the United States under a family reunification parole process, and granting various other pathways for immigrants to obtain legal entry and work authorization.
Despite concerns that illegal border crossings would surge after the expiration of Title, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CPB) recently reported a decline in total encounters with illegal immigrants along the Southwest border in June.
According to CBP data, encounters at the border, including individuals who presented at ports of entry with or without a CBP appointment, fell to their lowest level in more than two years, dropping around 30 percent from the previous month to 144,607 and marking the lowest monthly number since February 2021.
The U.S. Border Patrol recorded 99,545 encounters between ports of entry, representing a 42 percent decrease from May, according to the data.
In a press release announcing the figures, Troy Miller, CBP senior official performing the duties of the commissioner, said the decline in encounters was due, in part, to the agency’s efforts to enforce consequences under Title 8 authorities, which allows expulsions if illegal immigrants don’t qualify for asylum, and the expansion of lawful pathways.
Changes to Data Reporting
Yet while the Biden administration is claiming illegal border crossings are down, House Republican lawmakers have raised concerns over how the administration has allegedly changed the way in which illegal entries into the United States are reported.
Mark Morgan, visiting fellow at the Heritage Foundation’s Border Security and Immigration Center, told Just The News this week that the Biden administration’s alleged encounter numbers for June are only focused on the Southwest border and not nationwide encounters, which he said paints an inaccurate view of the real number of encounters.
Total nationwide encounters, he said, show that since Mr. Biden took office, encounters have risen 350 percent.
The Epoch Times has contacted the White House for comment.
GOP lawmakers have also been calling for Mr. Mayorkas’s salary to be eliminated in response to what they say is his failure to enforce the southern border amid an increase in illegal immigrants crossing into the United States under his watch.
Republicans are contemplating using the Holman Rule, which allows lawmakers to file amendments to appropriations legislation that would reduce the salary of or fire specific federal employees, or cut a specific program, to reduce Mr. Mayorkas’s salary to zero.
“People are sick of inaction against elected officials who betray their oath and refuse to do their jobs. Congress is given the power of the purse by the Constitution, and if the president’s Cabinet secretaries won’t do their jobs, we should consider using any tool, including the Holman Rule, to defund them and their ability to do further damage,” Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.) said in a statement earlier this month.
“Do your [expletive] job or Congress will act,” she said.
Articles of impeachment have also been filed against Mr. Mayorkas over his handling of the border.