Mayorkas traveled to the Rio Grande Valley, visiting several locations border patrol agents say are popular crossing areas for migrants. U.S. Border Patrol chief Raul Ortiz and other border officers spoke with the secretary, and he is expected to hold a press conference later Tuesday afternoon.
The visit comes days before President Biden’s administration plans to end Title 42, a Trump-era COVID-19 rule allowing border officials to speedily deport most migrants.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) plans to end Title 42 on May 23, but a federal judge in Louisiana may block the Biden administration from doing so.
Arizona, Missouri, Louisiana and others filed a lawsuit to Judge Robert Summerhays of the Western District of Louisiana last month. They argue the Biden administration failed to account for the cost to states if it cancels Title 42.
Border states are already seeing massive migration numbers, and Mayorkas has admitted that ending Title 42 would only exacerbate the situation. Summerhays is expected to hand down a ruling within days.
Mayorkas has acknowledged that ending the rule will result in a sharp spike in immigration. The southern border facing record-setting numbers, and has been for virtually all of Biden’s time in office.
Mayorkas received a cold greeting from border officers during his visit in February, with one agent turning his back on the secretary. Another incident saw Ortiz quelling frustrated agents who boiled over at Mayorkas during a meeting.
Ortiz struggled to maintain control as agents accused Mayorkas of “releasing criminal aliens into the country.”
“That’s the problem, chief,” one agent interjected at the time. “For evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing. That’s exactly what’s happening here. Good men are doing nothing. You’re allowing illegal aliens to be dropped off in communities.”
Ortiz responded by highlighting the organization’s success in drug-busting efforts, particularly with fentanyl.
“And under this administration, in the last year, we’ve got the highest fentanyl deaths in the history of our country,” another agent countered.
The Biden administration has repeatedly argued that the surges at the border are following a year pattern. While the southern border has seen a pattern of increases in migration each spring, the surges in both 2021 and 2022 have far outpaced previous years.