Mayorkas Claims Migrants ‘Game’ Asylum Rules as Border Issues Persist

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas says some migrants crossing the southern border “try to game” the U.S. asylum system. This is a change in his usual comments as the border crisis remains a big issue ahead of the November presidential election.

“The reality is that some people do indeed try to game the system,” Mayorkas told CBS News on Thursday. “That does not speak to everyone whom we encounter, but there is an element of it, and we deal with it accordingly.”

Mayorkas usually talks about speeding up asylum claims and defends the system. Republicans often say it’s too easy for migrants to cross the border and be released, even if their claims are fake.

Mayorkas mentioned that a recent bipartisan border security proposal, which hasn’t gained Senate support, “would have equipped us with more tools to deal with those individuals who seek to game the system.”

Border Mexico Texas
Two Men Climb Texas National Guard Fence as Migrants Wait for Asylum Processing at U.S.-Mexico Border. (Photo by David Peinado/Anadolu via Getty Images)

The number of migrants at the southern border remains high, despite a recent decrease. In April, there were 179,725 encounters, compared to 211,992 in April 2023, and 189,357 in March.

There was a record 2.4 million migrant encounters in the fiscal year 2023, which could be broken in fiscal year 2024.

The Biden administration says it’s dealing with issues like violence, poverty, corruption, and extreme weather events driving migration.

Mayorkas also said the U.S. overcame COVID faster than other countries and has many job openings, making it an attractive destination.

He calls the immigration system “broken” and wants Congress to reform it. The administration points to 720,000 removals or returns of illegal immigrants since May 2023, more than any full fiscal year since 2011.

House Set to Vote on Impeachment of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. (Getty Images)

Republicans blame the administration’s policies, like stopping Trump-era wall construction and the Migrant Protection Protocols. They have passed their own border security legislation in the House, but it hasn’t been taken up by the Senate.

Republicans also tried to impeach Mayorkas over his handling of the border crisis, but the Senate dismissed the impeachment articles. They often accuse the administration of encouraging the crisis with its policies, a claim Mayorkas denied in his CBS interview.

Immigration is likely to be a key issue in the upcoming presidential election.

A Fox News Poll found border security is the biggest issue among very conservative voters, Republicans, white men without a college degree, voters aged 65 and older, and rural voters. Another Fox News Poll in March found that seven in ten voters believe the White House has “mostly failed” at improving border security.

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