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Mayorkas says DHS has ‘plans’ in response to bipartisan criticism of border move

Asked about both sides’ refusal, Mayorkas told CNN: “I’m saying, number one, we have plans. We’re executing those plans.”

“I think we have to be very aware that we’re talking to enemies, and those enemies are the cartels and the smugglers, and I’m not going to provide them with our plans. We’re going to carry out our execution, carefully, methodically, in anticipating different scenarios,” he added.

Known as Title 42, the pandemic-era order allowed US border officials to immediately return migrants to Mexico or their home countries, citing a public health crisis. Many Capitol Hill Democrats worry that the rule’s rescinding in May won’t give the administration enough time to come up with an adequate plan to handle the spike in migrant crossings that is expected to come with it.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection had 221,303 encounters at the U.S.-Mexico border in March, marking a further increase in arrests along the southern border. CBP has already apprehended more than one million people in this exercise, which began Oct. 1. This includes multipliers.

The United States has emphasized regional partnerships as hundreds of thousands of migrants move across the hemisphere, fleeing deteriorating conditions. Secretary of State Antony Blinken leads a US delegation to Panama for a ministerial meeting on migration.

During her trip to Panama, Mayorkas visited the Darien region, where migrants travel through a dangerous stretch of jungle between Colombia and Panama known as the Darien Gap as they make their way to the US border. -Mexican.

Mayorkas described Tuesday’s meeting with Panamanian President Laurentino Cortizo Cohen and Panamanian Foreign Minister Erika Mouynes as positive.

“He made requests to us regarding the relationship and of course we had requests from Panama regarding the challenge of regional migration,” Mayorkas said of the Panamanian president. Panama’s requests included additional resources from the United States, such as funding, training, and technology.

The United States, meanwhile, has asked Panama to deport migrants who are not eligible for aid. “We need them to repatriate people who are not eligible for aid, and we need them to also explore the resettlement possibilities that exist for migrants,” Mayorkas said.

The two countries are working on concluding an agreement on migration.

State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement Tuesday, “Secretary Blinken, President Cortizo, Foreign Minister Mouynes, and Secretary Mayorkas discussed the importance of regional cooperation in irregular migration and forced displacement to promote safe, orderly and humane migration throughout the region.”

“They also discussed strengthening our economic ties, preparations to use the June Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles to advance efforts to strengthen democracy and improve governance in the region, and the need to unite against the Kremlin war in Ukraine,” he added. .

Democratic concern

By removing Title 42, the administration is reverting to procedures that have been in place for decades for dealing with migrants. This includes releasing migrants who seek asylum in the United States, sometimes under an alternative form of detention, or detaining migrants and deporting them to their country of origin.

But given conditions in Latin America, which has been hit particularly hard by the coronavirus pandemic, more migrants may want to travel to the US southern border.

“Following the CDC’s termination of its Title 42 public health order, we will likely face an increase in encounters above current high levels. There are a significant number of people who have not been able to access the asylum system over the past two years. , and who can decide when the time is right,” U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Chris Magnus said in a statement recently.

Two Democratic senators from the border state – the senses. Arizona’s Kyrsten Sinema and Mark Kelly – sent a letter to the president last month, saying Title 42 must stay in place until the administration demonstrates a clear plan to manage the number of migrants coming through the border. Kelly faces competitive re-election in November.

But it’s not just Democrats in border states carefully navigating the administration’s actions on Title 42.

“This preemptive repeal threatens border security at a time when the administration should be focused on strengthening it,” New Hampshire Sen. Maggie Hassan, who is also in the running this year, tweeted last month.

“I’m not happy about it,” said Rep. Elissa Slotkin, a Democrat from Michigan. “We don’t have a follow-up plan. We kind of plan to be overwhelmed at the border.”

“I think now is not the right time,” Georgia Sen. Raphael Warnock, who faces one of the most competitive races this fall, told CNN. “And I haven’t seen a plan.”

Republicans have previously signaled that they will make repealing Title 42 a cornerstone of their medium-term campaign strategy, especially if borderline numbers rise and images of crowded facilities and an unmitigated crisis take place in the media.

This story has been updated with additional information.

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