Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Thursday refused to say exactly how many migrants apprehended crossing the US-Mexico border between ports of entry have been released into the country under the Biden administration.
Mayorkas, however, claimed to “know the data” during an interview with Fox News “Special Report” host Bret Baier, and he said the figure is “well more than a million [migrants] per year” but didn’t offer a specific number.
“Customs and Border Protection sources say that currently, they are releasing more than 70% of the migrants crossing every day and sometimes more than that number. Would that surprise you?” Baier asked the DHS chief.
“It would not. It would not surprise me at all,” Mayorkas responded.
“I know the data. And I will tell you that when individuals are released they are released into immigration enforcement proceedings,” he added, claiming that a “record number” of migrants were “returned or removed” last year.
Mayorkas is under threat of impeachment from House Republicans, who are accusing the Biden administration official of dereliction of duty in response to the ongoing migrant crisis.
The GOP-led House Committee on Homeland Security announced plans Wednesday to hold a hearing Jan. 10 to evaluate Mayorkas’ “failed leadership and his refusal to enforce” immigration law.
Mayorkas vowed not to resign if impeached.
“I lead 260 incredibly dedicated and talented men and women of the Department of Homeland Security. I will continue to lead them in advancing the mission of protecting the American people,” he told Baier.
When asked if he would be willing to accept increased congressional funding for border security on the condition that it be used only for the detention and removal of migrants, Mayorkas signaled that he wouldn’t.
“The funds are needed to provide the Department of Homeland Security with more Border Patrol agents. The funds are needed to provide the Department of Homeland Security with more technology. The funds are needed to provide our department with more detention space – to provide the Department of Justice with more immigration judges so justice can be administered more swiftly,” he argued.
Mayorkas also refused to take any blame for the historic number of migrants entering the US illegally, instead blaming “authoritarian regimes” and “extreme weather events.”
“This is something that is not specific to the United States’ southern border,” he said. “This is something that we are seeing throughout the hemisphere and throughout the world. We have an increase in authoritarian regimes. We have more extreme weather events that are driving people from their homes. We have poverty, and America is proving to be prosperous.”
During fiscal year 2023, which ended Sept. 30, more than 2.47 million encounters with migrants were reported along the US-Mexico border, according to data from US Customs and Border Protection.
Only about 142,000 noncitizens were deported to more than 180 countries worldwide during the same time period, according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s annual report.