Mayorkas defends timing of Biden’s executive border bill

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Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Sunday defended the timing of the Biden administration’s recent executive order on border security, pinning the blame on past inaction in Congress.

ABC News “This Week” co-anchor Martha Raddatz, speaking with Mayorkas on Sunday, asked the Department of Homeland Security chief why the White House waited four months after a bipartisan border security deal failed in the Senate to implement its own action.

“Let’s look at the timeline. On day one of his administration, President Biden sent Congress a piece of legislation. Title 42, the public health order, was in place until May of 2023,” Mayorkas answered. “We implemented a regulation that restricted asylum, and then we pressed Congress to resource our department in August with a supplemental funding bill. That did not succeed.”

“Then in October, we sought congressional action, and then we started, Martha, the very difficult work of bipartisan negotiation with Republican and Democratic senators,” he added.

President Biden last week announced his long-expected executive action that will turn away migrants seeking asylum who cross the southern border illegally when there is a high volume of daily encounters.

The order would be enforced when the seven-day average of daily border crossings exceeds 2,500 between ports of entry, senior administration officials said, meaning it will go into effect immediately. Biden issued a proclamation announcing the change under the Immigration and Nationality Act.

The executive order came months after Senate Republicans helped sink the bipartisan border security legislation hammered out last fall between lawmakers and Biden administration officials. The legislation failed in the upper chamber for a second time last month.

Raddatz again pressed Mayorkas on the four-month gap in action.

“Martha, the bipartisan deal was rejected once. We pressed forward again. It was rejected a second time. And then we developed this and have implemented it, and we are at an early stage,” he said. “And let’s not minimize the significance of this move and the significance of operationalizing it. And it requires the cooperation of other countries, which we have secured.”

The Homeland Security leader called for congressional action to curb illegal immigration further.

“What we need … is congressional action. We cannot resource the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of State, the Department of Justice with additional personnel. We need Congress to legislate,” Mayorkas said.

Just days into the order, Mayorkas expressed initial optimism about the results.

“It’s early. The signs are positive. Our personnel have done an extraordinary job in implementing a very big shift in how we operate on the southern border,” he said.

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