“We are expelling families. We are expelling single adults. And we’ve made a decision that we will not expel young, vulnerable children. I think we are executing on our plans,” Mayorkas told NBC News’ “Meet the Press” on Sunday.
Mayorkas was then asked by Chuck Todd, the host, about whether the policy encourages parents in Mexico and other countries to send their children alone to the border.
“We have a short-term plan, a medium-term plan and a long-term plan, and the president and I have spoken to this repeatedly. Please remember something: That [former] President [Donald] Trump dismantled the orderly, humane, and efficient way of allowing children to make their claims under United States law in their home countries,” the secretary said, without elaborating.
However, President Joe Biden’s immigration policies have been blasted by Trump administration officials and Republicans, who have said that they are weak and encourage illegal immigration. Biden moved to rescind a series of Trump-era policies starting on Jan. 20 and also indicated that he supports expanded pathways to citizenship for illegal immigrants.
But Mayorkas said that the border is not open.
“In the meantime, we will not expel into the Mexican desert, for example, three orphaned children whom I saw over the last two weeks. We just won’t do that. That’s not who we are,” he said on Sunday morning.
In an interview last week with ABC News, Biden made a similar remark, saying the border is closed and called on people not to show up at the border.
“We are safely processing the children who do come to our border. We strongly urge, and the message is clear, not to do so now. I cannot overstate the perils of the journey that they take,” Mayorkas said.
Mayorkas told CNN later on Sunday that the agency set up three new facilities in the past week.
“We established three new facilities last week. … We are working on the system from beginning to end. We are working around the clock 24/7,” he said. “We have dealt with surges in the past and the men and women of Department of Homeland Security will succeed.”
At the same time, members of the media have raised red flags about how the administration is handing press access. Getty photographer John Moore over the weekend said that the press has been provided “zero access” to the border and photographers have been forced to shoot photos from the Mexican side of the border.
“I respectfully ask US Customs and Border Protection to stop blocking media access to their border operations,” Moore tweeted Friday. “I have photographed CBP under Bush, Obama and Trump but now – zero access is granted to media. These long lens images taken from the Mexican side.”
Meanwhile, there have been reports that Border Patrol officials have been muzzled by DHS officials about the situation at the border.