Friday, during an appearance on MSNBC, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas claimed to be taking a proactive approach on the U.S.-Mexico border to enforce the law.
Diaz-Balart also blamed Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) partly for the problems at the border.
Partial transcript as follows:
DIAZ-BALART: Secretary, I’m here in El Paso, where about 2,000 people are arriving every day.
This fiscal year, we’re looking at roughly 2.4 million apprehensions. Countless others are crossing and not being apprehended.
Secretary, what is the United States’ border policy?
MAYORKAS: Well, we are doing so much, Jose.
You know what our policy is? Our policy is to enforce the law. And that is indeed what we are doing.
Individuals who arrive at our border who do not have a legal basis to remain in the United States are being removed. And those that do have a valid basis under the laws that Congress has passed are able to stay, as the law provides. That is our policy, to enforce immigration law.
At the same time, we continue to urge Congress to pass immigration reform, because one thing that everyone agrees upon, in an area where there’s very little agreement, the area of immigration, is that our system is broken and it is in dire and desperate need of reform.
DIAZ-BALART: And so, the issue of immigration reform is clearly a priority, which has not, until this moment, been done in Washington.
But I take you back to the border, Secretary. And you have been at the border countless times. Towns all along the 1,800-mile Mexico-U.S. border are dealing with a humanitarian crisis. What do you tell local officials in these towns?
El Paso is spending $300,000 a day in dealing with the crisis. It’s a humanitarian crisis. What do, Secretary, you tell towns all across these 1,800 miles of border?
MAYORKAS: Jose, I say a number of things.
Number one, we have surged resources to the border. We have 23,000 personnel dedicated there. The president has, for the first time since 2011, the first president to do so in about 11 years, plussed up, increased the number of Border Patrol agents. That is reflected in his fiscal year 2023 budget.
And one other important thing that I’d say, among a number of others, is, work with us. Coordinate. We work in close partnership with local communities to bring order, to bring safety and bring humanity to the situation.
I know you’re in El Paso. We work very closely with Oscar Leeser, the mayor of El Paso. We reimburse the city for expenses through our emergency food and shelter program. When we work in coordination with one another, we address the situation ably and effectively.
When a governor acts unilaterally and refuses to coordinate with other government officials, that is when problems arise. And that is when we deplore political statesmanship, when we’re dealing with the lives of vulnerable individuals who are reflective of a challenge that our entire hemisphere faces.
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