“Don’t come,” Mayorkas replied, a response consistent with his past responses to similar questions. His comment also echoes phrases used by other members of the administration, including Vice President Kamala Harris, who last year told prospective immigrants to Guatemala, “Don’t come. Don’t come.”
Although he promised during his campaign that he would end Title 42 – a deportation policy invoked by then-President Donald Trump, designed to stop the spread of Covid-19 through restrictions on immigration – President Joe Biden has kept the policy in place since taking office. But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced in early April that it would end the May 23 policy, which was used to deport more than a million migrants at the southern border.
The decision sparked an uproar from Democrats, who fear a summer surge of migrants at the border if the policy is revoked. The move also provided ammunition for Republicans, who are weaponizing the issue ahead of the midterm elections. Several states have sued to block the end of the policy.
DHS officials said they project the possibility of 18,000 border arrests per day if Title 42 is lifted, up from a current count of about 7,000 per day.
Mayorkas said on Sunday that if that number is reached, “it’s going to be an extraordinary strain on our system.” But he said DHS is preparing for the influx of migrants “not only on the national scene, but also with our southern partners.”
“This is going to put a strain on our system – which is precisely why our plan also calls for a regional approach to what is a regional challenge. And we need southern countries to manage their borders,” he said.
Mayorkas said that as DHS secretary, he has no opinion on whether Title 42 — which allowed for the immediate deportation of migrants without due process — should be in place.
“I’m not doing it because I’m not a public health expert. But it is my responsibility to plan and execute as it is in place, and to plan, prepare and execute for the day it is not,” he said.