Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas is facing a call to resign from Sen. Lindsey Graham, who said Thursday that if the department chief can’t change policies to solve the border situation he needs to find a new job.
Mr. Graham, a South Carolina Republican who in the past has been the fulcrum of immigration negotiations on Capitol Hill, said the Biden team “has lost control of the border” and Mr. Mayorkas “doesn’t have either the will or capability to fix the problem.”
“It is time for DHS Secretary Mayorkas to change course or change jobs,” he said in a statement.
He said only “immediate and drastic change” can head off a worsening situation.
The new Biden team has reversed many of former President Donald Trump’s get-tough border policies, put in place after the 2019 migrant surge, which helped tame the problem. As those policies were erased, border numbers have risen again in the last two months, with Mr. Mayorkas admitting this week that the country is on pace to catch more illegal border crossers than at any time this century.
The situation would be even worse had the Biden team not kept in place one key Trump coronavirus policy that allows immediate expulsion of most people showing up at the border without permission to enter. Still, with less cooperation from Mexico and with Biden policies changes, more people are being caught and immediately released.
Mr. Mayorkas, in testimony Wednesday to a House committee, admitted his department released illegal immigrants into communities without testing them for the coronavirus. Local officials say up to 25% of the migrants are COVID-positive.
Once released, they climbed on Greyhound buses and transport vans and headed deeper into the U.S., mixing the the general public both along the way and at their destinations.
Meanwhile a growing number of illegal immigrant children are mired in Homeland Security facilities, in what those on both the right and left label a humanitarian crisis.
Mr. Mayorkas insisted to lawmakers that he has plans in place to deal with the short-term surge, the medium-term challenge of an even larger number of migrants looking to come, and the long-term factors that push people to flee homes in Latin America.
“The situation is undoubtedly difficult. We are working around the clock to manage it and it will take time, but we will not waiver in our commitment to succeed. That is our job,” he said.