“The other day I was in Mexico, and I said, if our border is our first line of defense, we’re going to lose and this is unsustainable,” Mayorkas said as he spoke to Border Patrol agents in Texas on Thursday, audio of which was obtained by Fox News. “We can’t continue like this, our people in the field cant continue and our system isn’t built for it.”
Mayorkas told the agents that the current border situation “cannot continue.” He said the federal government’s system was not designed to handle such an influx of migrants as the U.S. has seen in recent months and he was “very well” aware that the sector recently came close to “breaking.”
The remarks came the same day as Mayorkas announced that there were more than 212,000 migrant encounters in July alone, a 13% increase over June and a massive increase over the 40,929 in July 2020.
While he gave a grim assessment of the border situation in a press conference, calling the situation “one of the toughest challenges we face,” his remarks when he spoke to Border Patrol agents were more blunt. He also told them he was seeking 2,000 new agents in the 2023 budget.
Republicans agreed with Mayorkas’ assessment, but asked what the Biden administration intends to do about it.
“Glad Secretary Mayorkas agrees – the situation at the border is ‘unsustainable,'” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy tweeted. “Now what is their plan to fix it?”
“Even Biden’s own DHS Secretary is saying the border crisis is ‘unsustainable,’ Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel tweeted. “When will Biden and Harris finally take action?”
Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., tweeted that Mayorkas’ remarks “are the most honest words I’ve heard from the mouth of Secretary Mayorkas.”
“Joe Biden has totally lost control of the border,” he said.
Republicans have blamed the surge on the Biden administration’s policies, including the rolling back of Trump-era policies. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, on Friday pointed to the releasing of migrants into the interior, the ending of the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) and the ending of border wall construction as three factors in the crisis.
Cruz declared that “Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are the root cause.”
“We can’t have a defeatist fighting for our nation’s border security. It’s time for Sec. Mayorkas to resign, and he needs to be replaced with someone who will tell the truth publicly & stand up to the radical activists inside the Biden-Harris administration,” Ducey tweeted Friday.
Mayorkas, despite his remarks, had expressed confidence in the administration’s plan — which includes tackling root causes like violence and corruption, opening up legal asylum pathways and targeting smugglers — but warned it would take time.
“We have a plan, we are executing our plan and that takes time,” he said.
On Friday, a White House spokesperson said that Mayorkas was referring to the regional nature of migration and how the U.S. is working with neighboring and regional countries to address the migrant flow. The spokesperson also said the DHS chief was “underlying the need for the United States to continue various deterrence and expulsion measures we have in place.”
They noted the recent extension of Title 42 public health protections that allow for the rapid expulsion of migrants, and recent flights removing migrants to both Central America and Mexico.
Fox News’ Peter Doocy, Edmund DeMarche and Emma Colton contributed to this report.