Mayorkas: ‘If It’s 10% or 15%, I Don’t Have the Precise Numbers’ of Haitians Allowed to Stay in U.S., ‘Believe It Is a Very Small Percentage’

On Thursday’s broadcast of CNN’s “Situation Room,” DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said, “if it’s 10% or 15%, I don’t have the precise numbers” of how many Haitian migrants have been allowed to stay in the U.S. and put into immigration enforcement proceedings, but it’s “a minority” and “We believe it is a very small percentage” of those who massed in Del Rio, TX.

Host Wolf Blitzer asked, “I understand the Department of Homeland Security says 1,400 Haitians have been deported. How many have actually been released here into the United States?”

Maayorkas responded, “Wolf, we have indeed removed approximately 1,400 people from the Del Rio Sector. We accumulate our statistics on a monthly basis, and of course, we’ll publish those as well. The individuals whom we release and place into immigration enforcement proceedings are those, for example, with acute medical conditions, specific vulnerabilities, or if our operational capacity so dictates. It’s very important, Wolf, to underscore the fact that this is not a matter of immigration policy, but rather this is a matter of public health policy. We are applying the law pursuant to an order that the Centers for Disease Control issued in light of the fact that this country and the world is in the midst of a pandemic. We are exercising that authority as we are required to do, to protect the health and well-being of the migrants themselves, our personnel, local communities, and the American public.”

Blitzer then asked, “So, I take it 1,400 have been sent back to Haiti. There’s a local organization helping migrants that say[s] more than 1,000 have been released here into the United States. Is that right? Have 1,000 Haitians been allowed to stay in the United States, at least for now?”

Mayorkas answered, “Well, what we are doing is we are continuing to remove individuals. We have moved people from Del Rio to other processing centers along the border, to ensure the safety and security of the individuals and to facilitate the removal process. Those individuals who we’re not able to remove by reason of their acute medical conditions, we place in immigration enforcement proceedings or address our operational capacities as need be. But we are very focused on applying the public health laws that we are obligated to enforce.”

Blitzer then asked, “So, can you give us a number, how many have been allowed to stay here in the United States, for whatever reason?”

Mayorkas responded, “We believe it is a very small percentage of the total that assembled in Del Rio, Texas, and that will be removed.”

Blitzer then followed up, “What does that mean? About 15,000 have shown up. I take it 1,400 have been sent back to Haiti. What about the rest?”

Mayorkas answered, “Wolf, if it’s 10% or 15%, I don’t have the precise numbers. I assure you it’s a minority of the individuals for the reasons that I have articulated, and they are placed in immigration enforcement proceedings, where they are able — where they appear before a judge, and if, in fact, they make a valid claim to remain in the United States, then, of course, we honor that. And if not, they are removed as well.”

Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett

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