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Washington Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler took aim at DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas over his recent claim that illegal migrants who come to the U.S. at the southern border are “promptly removed.”
During his appearance on “Fox News Sunday,” Mayorkas was pressed about the growing surge of migrants arriving at the border as the Biden administration continues efforts to lift the pandemic-era Title 42, which courts have ruled must stay in place.
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“Last month, [Border Patrol] saw the most encounters on the southern border and DHS history,” Fox News’ Bret Baier said. “In all of last year, fiscal year, there were 1.7 million encounters and already there have been almost 1.1 million, and it’s not even May. So do you have a different definition of ‘effectively managed?’”
“Oh, not at all, Bret,” Mayorkas responded. “Do you know what happens to these individuals? They are either expelled under the Title 42 of the CDC or they are placed into immigration enforcement proceedings. They make their claims under the law. If those claims don’t prevail, they are promptly removed from the United States.”
That didn’t exactly pass the smell test from the Washington Post’s star fact-checker, who wrote a lengthy piece about the lengthy processing of illegal migrants and telling readers, “The track record of the Biden administration so far suggests people who eventually are ordered deported may be able to wait a long time before action is taken.”
Kessler pointed to the nearly 2.5 million border encounters that have occurred since February 2021 and how more than 1.34 million were immediately expelled due to Title 42, which leaves more than 1.1 million additional people who are being processed through the immigration system.”
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“If they might be deemed inadmissible, they are supposed to be detained. But with detention facilities under stress because of coronavirus protocols, the administration has instead released them for processing down the road,” Kessler wrote.
He also cited sharp declines in deportations, showing only 59,011 occurring in the fiscal year 2021 (down from 185,884 in 2020) and ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations made only about 74,082 arrests during that same period after averaging 148,000 arrests between 2017-2019, according to the agency.
“The administration has said it is prioritizing the removal of immigrants who pose public safety and national security threats. That suggests people who do not pose such threats have little fear of being removed promptly, as Mayorkas claimed,” Kessler wrote.
A DHS spokesperson asserted to the Post that what Mayorkas said was factual. But as Kessler pointed out, the top Biden official was apparently referring to a “very narrow instance” of migrants who lose their case in court.
“As Secretary Mayorkas stated, ‘If those claims don’t prevail, they are promptly removed from the United States,'” the spokesperson told Kessler. “The data shows that to be true. Ninety-four percent of people encountered at our southwest land border in FY 2020 and placed in Title 8 [removal] proceedings who did not make successful claims for relief were repatriated by the end of calendar year 2021, and 86 percent of those encountered in FY2021 who did not make successful claims were repatriated by the end of CY 2021. This data includes persons of all nationalities encountered.”
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“Our reporting demonstrated how long it can get to that point, and the statement acknowledged that ‘due to existing immigration court backlogs, the process for hearing and deciding non-detained asylum cases currently takes several years on average,'” Kessler wrote.
Regarding the “Pinocchio Test,” Kessler concluded that Mayorkas “gave the impression of a smooth-running machine… But the reality is much different. Certain nationalities, such as Mexicans, appear on a faster track to deportation. But others are not.”
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“Indeed, more than 1 million people who entered the country without proper documents have been given deportation orders — and still have not left. Others have disappeared — a problem that may have gotten worse as tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants are released in the country each month,” Kessler wrote. “DHS, in its defense of Mayokas’s remarks, said he was only referring to what happens when an undocumented immigrant loses their case. That’s a distinction that most viewers likely missed. Mayorkas earns Three Pinocchios.”