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“COVID & the Weather”: DHS Secretary Mayorkas explains why border crossings were up in 2022

Record-breaking border crossings were reported in 2022, and Secretary Mayorkas claimed that COVID-19 and “extreme weather” was to blame for the crisis. He listed “poverty, violence & corruption” as other explanations as to why the number of border crossings was so high. According to the CBP, almost 3 million people crossed the border in FY 2022. Already in FY 2023, the border has already seen over one million crossings (Fox News), and Secretary Mayorkas is still talking in circles. 

Mayorkas: COVID, Extreme Weather Are Part of Why Border Crossings Hit Record Last Year

By Ian Hanchett; May 12, 2023

On Friday’s broadcast of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas argued that the number of crossings at the border has spiked in the past year due to “poverty, violence, corruption, authoritarian regimes, the COVID-19 pandemic, extreme weather events,” and false information from smugglers.

Co-host Willie Geist asked, “You said a moment ago, Mr. Secretary, that we have a broken immigration system. And I don’t think many people would disagree with you about that. And yes, this is a decades-old problem, but the truth of the matter is, just this week, we’re seeing record numbers of illegal crossings at the border. In the last year, almost 2 million arrests, another record at the border. Why has the problem gotten so much worse just in this last year or two?”

Mayorkas answered, “I would say two things: First, let’s not surrender to the fact that we have a broken immigration system. Congress needs to act. Let’s fix it. It’s been a problem that everyone agrees on for more than two decades, number one. Number two, the challenge that we are seeing at our southern border is not unique to our southern border. It is a surge in migration, a surge in the displacement of people all across our region. In Latin America, and not only in our hemisphere, around the world, we are seeing more displaced people now than we have at any time since World War II.”

Geist then asked, “But why is it this last year? Why record crossings? Some have suggested it’s because the impression that is out there is that it would be easier under President Biden to cross into the country, that the consequences are less severe than they would have been under President Trump or even under President Obama. Why is the problem so intense right now?”

Mayorkas responded, “Well, a few factors: poverty, violence, corruption, authoritarian regimes, the COVID-19 pandemic, extreme weather events, the causes of displacement are many, number one. And number two, we are also combating smuggling organizations that spread false information, that spread lies to intending migrants, deceiving them into thinking that the border is open, and it is not. And it has not been. Last year, we removed, returned, or expelled about 1.4 million people. And we are battling the smuggling organizations in an unprecedented way. We have arrested more than 10,000 people involved in smuggling operations, and we are also communicating accurate information to intending migrants. We started a digital campaign only two days ago that builds on all our other communications. If I had two words of caution to provide to individuals who are thinking to take the dangerous journey, I’d say, one, don’t take it. Use a safe, lawful, orderly path that we have made available to you. And second, don’t believe the smugglers, listen only to official government communications.”

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