DHS secretary says the current immigration system is ‘broken'

In response to a question during a White House press briefing on Friday about migration issues at the U.S.-Mexico border, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said the recent border crossing by Haitian migrants to Del Rio, Texas, was different from other journeys across the U.S.-Mexico border. Mayorkas added that “we are dealing with a broken immigration system, and we need legislative reform.”

Video Transcript

- The broader question is that it seems like there are border crises that keep popping up sort of like whack-a-mole. Every month or so, there's another clump of people or another major issue, or unaccompanied minors. And is there a plan to maybe have, you know, like FEMA-type teams that go to these crisis points, or is the goal to somehow stop having these crises that keep breaking out?

- Well, you mentioned FEMA. So two points, if I may. Let me first address the-- well, let me go in reverse. From an operational response perspective, we addressed the challenge of unaccompanied children in March.

And I said then that we had a plan. We were executing our plan, and it would take time. And, in fact, within 60 days or so, we went from an average time of unaccompanied child in a border patrol station of 24 hours to less than 25 hours. And we did that through our operational capacity throughout the Department of Homeland Security as directed by the president in an all of government effort.

Here last weekend, we had approximately 15,000 individuals in the Del Rio section. I committed to addressing that within 10 days. And today, we have none. And that was because of the Department of Homeland Security's assets with the assistance of others across the government.

That is something very different than the fact of the dynamism of irregular migration writ large and the fact that this is a situation that has occurred from time to time ever since I can remember in my more than 20 years of government service. And the president has spoken very powerfully about this from day one. And before he assumed office.

First and foremost and most fundamentally and foundationally, we are dealing with a broken immigration system. And we need legislative reform. And everyone agrees, in a world where unanimity is so difficult to achieve, there is one thing as to which there is a unanimity, and that is the need for comprehensive immigration reform. And unfortunately, it seems to remain elusive, but our real dedication to achieving it is unrelenting. And we continue to do so, number one.

Number two, we have a three-part plan. We invest in the root causes to address the need to address the reason why. People leave the homes in which they live and take a perilous journey that they should not take.

Second, the building of safe, orderly, and humane pathways, and, third, rebuilding an asylum system and a refugee program that we're dismantled in the prior administration. This takes time. And we are executing our plans.