DHS Secretary: A Secure Border Does Not Mean People Aren’t Able to Illegally Cross the Border

Melanie Arter | February 20, 2023 | 3:24pm EST
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Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas arrives for the 45th Kennedy Center Honors at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC, on December 4, 2022. (Photo by STEFANI REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images)
DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas (Photo by STEFANI REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images)

(CNSNews.com) - DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas told CNN’s “Who’s Talking to Chris Wallace” on Sunday that when he says the border is secure, he does not mean that people aren’t able to cross the border illegally, because “by that measure, the border has never been secure.”

When asked how he can say the border is secure, Mayorkas said, “Right now, the United States has millions of jobs opening due to the economic success of this administration. We have progressed in conquering the pandemic far more than the countries to the south of Mexico, and that makes the United States an appealing place of destination for people fleeing persecution or otherwise in desperate need of a better life.”

Host Chris Wallace asked, “But when you say it's -- what does secure mean to you? It certainly doesn't mean people are able to get across the border illegally.”

MAYORKAS: Of course not. That is -- by that measure, the border has never been secure, right? Since the Department of Homeland Security was created, individuals have evaded --

WALLACE: So by what measure is it secure, sir? 

MAYORKAS: There is not a common definition of that. 

WALLACE: What's your definition -- 

MAYORKAS: What our goal is to achieve operational control of the border to do everything that we can to support our personnel with the resources, the technology, the policies that really advance the security of the border and do not come at the cost of the values of our country. 

WALLACE: But on the question of security, we have all seen the scenes of floods of people walking across shallow points in the Rio Grande. We've all seen the pictures of encampments in downtowns, El Paso, places in Arizona. We've all seen the pictures of the flood of migrants coming to New York. By those standards, it is not a secure border. 

MAYORKAS: The vast majority of those individuals have not sought to evade law enforcement but have actually surrendered themselves to law enforcement and made a claim for relief under our laws. The challenge, the challenge is that between that time of encounter and the time of an ultimate immigration judge's evaluation of their claim for asylum is four plus years.  

Wallace pointed out that migrants believe there’s an open border. 

The secretary accused Republicans of communicating the message to smugglers that the border is open.

MAYORKAS: Chris, have you heard some of our political leaders speak about the border and communicate that the border is open? I don't think the more than 1.5 million people who have been removed or expelled from the border would consider the border open, but political leaders communicate that the border is open. That is music to the smuggler's ears and the smugglers themselves spread -- 

WALLACE:  Wait, wait, wait, you're going to blame this on Republican critics. 

MAYORKAS: Absolutely not. 

WALLACE: You're not saying the administration and policies on Remain in Mexico or Title 42 or stopping construction of the wall, that that had no impact? 

MAYORKAS: Chris, that's not what I said. I'm just -- I'm just citing for you a few things and please, allow me. Number one, they used that rhetoric. Number two, we're dealing with smuggling organizations that are far more sophisticated than they were when I prosecuted them for 12 years as an assistant United States attorney and as the United States attorney. They spread disinformation. They spread misinformation and the like. 

When asked whether he takes Republican calls for his impeachment seriously, the secretary said, “I take them seriously. It's the leadership of the House that provided those remarks. I don't dismiss it by any measure, but what I do is focus on my work.”

Mayorkas said that he doesn’t think he did anything wrong.

“No, I don’t. I think it is a disagreement over policy, and I think it's used for political purposes to continue a negative dialogue about a migration challenge that is not unique to the United States, to continue that dialogue to uplift it for political reasons,” the secretary said.

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