- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 16, 2021

The number of illegal immigrants trying to jump the border is on pace for the highest rate in two decades, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said Tuesday, delivering a sobering account just a day before he is to face Congress.

He placed blame for the situation on Mexico’s lessening cooperation, on the conditions in other countries, on the coronavirus and on the Trump administration — but did not mention President Biden’s changes, which many migrants themselves are citing as their reason for coming now.

In particular, Mr. Mayorkas said the Trump team left “no plans” for protecting Border Patrol agents and others on the front lines from the coronavirus.

He said the country has experienced surges before, pointing to 2019 and 2014 — that latter year when he himself was deputy secretary. But he also acknowledged this time is looking even worse.

“We are on pace to encounter more individuals on the southwest border than we have in the last 20 years,” he said.

He said a majority of those are being expelled under a Trump-era coronavirus health emergency policy that the administration has kept in place.

But the Biden administration will not expel unaccompanied juveniles, and Mexico is refusing to allow expulsion back across the boundary of some other families. Reports at the border say those numbers range up to 1,000 a day. The families are being processed and released into communities.

He acknowledged the government is not doing COVID-19 testing, but said it is offering to cover costs if local officials and service providers will test.

Yet some communities lack the capacity to test, much less to quarantine those that do test positive. COVID positive rates run as high as 25% among some groups of migrants.

Local officials who can’t quarantine say those migrants are getting on buses along with the general public and disappearing into the country’s interior.

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