Top Republican leaders are calling on the Biden administration to confront the crisis at the southern U.S. border. This comes after leaked audio emerged in which Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas could be heard calling the situation “unsustainable.”
“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 told Border Patrol agents in Texas.
“We can’t continue like this, our people in the field can’t continue, and our system isn’t built for it.”
Mayorkas told the agents he was “very well” aware that the sector recently came close to “breaking.”
The secretary made these remarks when announcing that there were more than 212,000 migrant encounters in July alone. This figure is 13% higher than June’s numbers, and a significant increase over the 40,929 migrant encounters seen in July 2020.
Republicans quickly agreed with Mayorkas’ comments but questioned what the Biden administration would do about the situation.
“Glad Secretary Mayorkas agrees — the situation at the border is ‘unsustainable.’ Now, what is their plan to fix it?” tweeted House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.
Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel echoed McCarthy saying, “Even Biden’s own DHS Secretary is saying the border crisis is ‘unsustainable.’ When will Biden and Harris finally, take action?”
Mayorkas’ remarks “are the most honest words I’ve heard from the mouth of Secretary Mayorkas,” said Senator Josh Hawley, R-Mo. “Joe Biden has lost control of the border.”
Republicans blame the surge at the border on the Biden Administration and its policies, which include rolling back Trump administration policies.
“Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are the root cause,” said Senator Ted Cruz, R-Texas.
Cruz pointed out that the ending of border wall construction, ending the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), and releasing migrants into the interior were three main factors of the crisis.
Arizona Governor Doug Ducey went a step further, calling on Mayorkas to resign.
“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 said.
White House scrambles to clarify
After Mayorkas’ comments were made public, the White House scrambled to clarify the message.
Despite his remarks, Mayorkas had previously expressed confidence in the Biden administration’s plan. Biden’s plan includes opening up legal asylum pathways, targeting smugglers, and tackling root causes, including corruption and violence.
“We have a plan, we are executing our plan, and that takes time,” explained Mayorkas.
A White House spokesperson tried to clarify Mayorkas’ remarks, saying that the secretary was “underlying the need for the United States to continue various deterrence and expulsion measures we have in place.”
The grim assessment of the border situation included calling the crisis “one of the toughest challenges we face.” Mayorkas told border patrol agents that he would be seeing 2,000 new agents in the 2023 budget.