During an appearance on MSNBC Tuesday evening, Department of Homeland Security secretary Mayorkas defended the Biden administration’s use of the Title 42 expulsions protocol for the massive influx of Haitian migrants who have poured across the border into Del Rio, Texas, in the last week.
When challenged by host Joy Reid about the justification for the policy, Mayorkas affirmed that deportations will continue to avoid exacerbating the domestic COVID crisis. Reid cited the “humanitarian issue” and argued that the migrants would be more prone to contracting the virus if shipped back to their country of origin.
The secretary replied, “It is currently our government’s intention to continue to exercise our Title 42 authority in light of the public-health imperative as determined by the Centers for Disease Control.”
He acknowledged that the provision is “the subject of ongoing litigation in the courts.” Last month, the Biden administration extended the Title 42 policy that allows border agents to expel migrants and asylum-seekers, exempting unaccompanied minors, without a court hearing over concerns of coronavirus spread. The American Civil Liberties Union subsequently renewed a lawsuit seeking to overturn the policy, which has been entangled in legal disputes since.
The CDC directive “temporarily suspends the introduction of certain non-citizens based on the Director’s determination that introduction of such non-citizens” through the Mexico or Canada border “creates a serious danger of the introduction of COVID-19 into the United States,” the organization wrote in a press release.
Mayorkas’s comments come after nearly 10,000 migrants illegally crossed the Rio Grande river and camped under a bridge in Del Rio, Texas, overwhelming border-security personnel with processing claims.
When Reid asked how the Biden administration planned to facilitate the passage of refugees from Central American countries and Haiti, Mayorkas reiterated the “multi-part strategy” it has deployed. That plan addresses the “root causes of irregular migration,” provide “safe legal pathways for migration,” and reform current asylum laws were so “fundamentally dismantled under the prior administration,” Mayorkas said.