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DHS Secretary Mayorkas visits Tucson; Biden border action seeing 'results'

Posted: 6:52 PM, Jun 26, 2024
Updated: 2024-06-26 23:48:10-04
DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas speaks one-on-one with KGUN 9's Ryan Fish.

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas visited Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson Wednesday, touting new numbers that suggest President Biden’s new executive action is boosting border security.

After just three weeks of the order being in effect, Mayorkas said, “we are already seeing the results.”

“These actions are changing the calculus for those considering crossing our border,” he said before a group of reporters.

Mayorkas says apprehensions have plunged more than 40% across the southern border in the past three weeks, and are down more than 45% in the Tucson Sector.

VIDEO OF FULL MEDIA BRIEFING:

Mayorkas cited other measures of border security progress during that time, including more than 100 repatriation flights to more than 20 countries and more than 24,000 people removed from the U.S.

Yet, Mayorkas still reiterates that Congress must act to produce lasting change. He laments the failure of the bipartisan bill that would have sent significant funding to the border.

“Congress did not act. Politics interfered,” he told KGUN. “We have not been properly resourced for more than a decade.”

But critics on both sides of the immigration issue believe the new policy is either too harsh for asylum seekers, or is too little, too late in addressing the border crisis.

“The results we’ve seen over the last three weeks, folks will say: ‘We could have seen this if this exact order had been put in months before.’ What’s your response to that?” KGUN 9’s Ryan Fish asked Mayorkas.

“We have taken executive actions that have made a difference,” he replied. “The numbers over the last year have dropped over the prior years.”

CBP numbers show that’s true, but only since this March.

Mayorkas also contends the landscape was different during the COVID public health measure ‘Title 42’,’ in place until last May.

But this is also a human issue.

“Are you convinced that this is fair for legitimate asylum seekers, this policy?” Fish asked Mayorkas.

“Yes I am,” he said. “We are abiding by our international obligations. We are abiding by our values in exercising the humanitarian relief of which we are so proud. But we are doing so while also being strong on border enforcement.”

WATCH RYAN FISH'S UNEDITED INTERVIEW WITH SECRETARY MAYORKAS:

"Congress did not act": Homeland Security Secretary Alexander Mayorkas on border action

Last week, KGUN 9’s Adam Klepp went to Nogales, Mexico—where families claiming fear were still removed from the U.S. They were threatened with prison time if they return.

Mayorkas says generalized fear of violence or poverty are not qualifications for asylum.

“For example, the fear that must be proven is fear of persecution by reason of one’s membership in a particular social group,” he said.

While the numbers released this week paint the border order as effective so far, even Mayorkas admits it’s not perfect.

“This executive action already has been challenged in the court,” he told KGUN. “And the only fulsome and enduring solution is legislation.”

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Ryan Fish is an anchor and reporter for KGUN 9 and comes to the Sonoran Desert from California’s Central Coast after working as a reporter, sports anchor and weather forecaster in Santa Barbara. Ryan grew up in the Chicago suburbs, frequently visiting family in Tucson. Share your story ideas and important issues with Ryan by emailing ryan.fish@kgun9.com or by connecting on Facebook and Twitter.