Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said Wednesday there is no “invasion” along the Southwest border, and he said the new Biden team has succeeded in imposing order on the massive flow of people attempting to jump the boundary.
He also challenged reports that ICE officers are averaging just one deportation every two months per person.
“The border is closed,” the secretary told Congress.
Republicans chided him for the claim, pointing to near-record levels of people attempting to cross and the record numbers of some categories of illegal immigrants that are being allowed to stay.
But Mr. Mayorkas said he has a duty to those people to allow them to make claims of asylum.
He said his intention is for those whose cases fail — which according to past numbers will be the mass majority — to eventually be removed.
One Republican confronted him with new reporting that deportation officers are averaging only a single deportation every two months, which suggests people aren’t being removed once their cases fail.
The secretary, without providing his own numbers, rejected the deportation statistics, which came from a Washington Post report.
“I do not believe it is accurate,” he said.
Mr. Mayorkas was testifying to the House Appropriations Committee on the department’s proposed budget for 2022 — though President Biden has yet to release the budget.
Later in the day, testifying to the Senate Appropriations Committee, the secretary was again pressed on the low deportation rate and again said he wasn’t familiar with the numbers.
He also indicated he’s not worried about that sort of yardstick.
“Smart and efficient law enforcement is not to be measured quantitatively. It’s to be measured qualitatively,” Mr. Mayorkas said.
He said the early data he’s seen shows an increase in ICE arrests of migrants with the most serious criminal charges.