Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas admitted in an internal memo that the end of a policy that enables the swift deportation of migrants "will strain our workforce, our communities, and our entire system."
"We anticipate that we may experience increased levels of arrivals at our southern border in the coming weeks," Mayorkas wrote in Thursday's staff-wide memo, a copy of which was obtained by the Washington Free Beacon. "This will strain our workforce, our communities, and our entire system."
Mayorkas is referring to the termination of Title 42, a pandemic-era public health order that allows for the swift deportation of migrants. The policy is set to lapse on May 11, after years of legal battles and inaction from the White House. Mayorkas circulated the memo hours before discussing changes to border policy in a joint press conference with Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
The memo shows Mayorkas’s efforts to quell his staff’s concerns ahead of a coming migration surge, which one senior Department of Homeland Security official called "an upcoming s— storm." The southern border could see up to 15,000 crossings a day once Title 42 lapses, which amounts to 5.1 million annually. By comparison, last March saw an average of roughly 5,200 daily illegal border crossings.
Given the expected surge, Republicans have called on the president to keep Title 42 in place, while activists and far-left Democrats applaud its termination. But other Democrats are less enthusiastic, including Rep. Veronica Escobar (D., Texas) who said earlier this month that she is "very concerned for our border communities."
Mayorkas acknowledged that he anticipates an increase in illegal border crossings in his Thursday press conference but also claimed that new remote processing centers will give asylum seekers greater ability to enter the United States from their home countries. Those new processing centers, Mayorkas said, should disincentivize individuals from attempting to sneak through the southern border.
"You almost feel bad for the secretary. After two years on the job he knows full well the chaos we’re about to face—especially the burden that will fall on frontline officers," the senior DHS official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told the Free Beacon. "But the administration pours all efforts into processing under the stated belief it will decrease strain on the border. It didn’t help under COVID rules and Mayorkas’s comments show the White House knows it won’t work when Title 42 ends."
Mayorkas’s memo echoed much of what he said at the press conference, including an attempt to blame the record-number of border crossings that have occurred under his watch on the nation’s "broken immigration system." Mayorkas also touted policies that would bar illegal aliens from entering the country for five years and fine them for each repeat illegal entry.
But the senior DHS official noted that both those policies have been on the books for years, and that repeat entry is already a felony.
"The challenges of migration are immense and have been so for decades. We are dealing with a broken immigration system that we need Congress to reform," Mayorkas wrote. "Through it all, one thing is constant: the heroism, tireless dedication, and incredible talent of our personnel."
Although morale has been low at DHS since the beginning of President Joe Biden’s term due to the border crisis, the end of Title 42 has left many, according to the senior DHS official, "feeling screwed." The United Nations estimates that 660,000 migrants are currently in Mexico, most of whom want to eventually enter the United States.
The Federation for American Immigration Reform blasted the White House after Mayorkas’s press conference, alleging his "plan ... amounts to the same failed policies that resulted in record levels of illegal immigration, only on steroids."
"The DHS plan amounts to a massive and illegal scheme designed to accommodate unlimited numbers of migrants in defiance of the department’s statutory obligation to deter and prevent illegal immigration," FAIR president Dan Stein said. "It is the same failed strategy that has already resulted in more than 7 million illegal entries in just the first 26 months of this administration."
The Department of Homeland Security did not respond to a request for comment.