McALLEN, Texas (Border Report) — Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Friday delivered the first State of Homeland Security address, during which he said new immigration border policies would be coming very soon — likely ahead of the end of Title 42 next month.
Mayorkas said that the Biden administration will aggressively use Title 8 to process individuals and remove those deemed not qualified to claim asylum in the United States once Title 42 is lifted on May 11. Title 42 is the public health order that was put in place in March 2020 by the Trump administration to stop the cross-border spread of coronavirus by preventing migrants from seeking asylum at U.S. ports of entry.
Title 8 removals come with a five-year ban on the individual returning to the United States, which gives it more “consequences,” Mayorkas said. That’s the teeth DHS hopes will better deter individuals from trying to cross the border since immediate expulsions via Title 42 come with no legal record.
“Title 42 allows us to expel an individual — you essentially turn them around without permitting them to make a claim for asylum very, very quickly. But it does not create an immigration enforcement record. It is not formally a removal from the United States. It’s an expulsion,” Mayorkas said at the Friday morning event held in Washington, D.C., by the Council on Foreign Relations.
“When one is expelled, one can try over and over again,” he said. “So while the expulsion is very facilitating, in terms of speed, it is actually not delivering a consequence.”
In analyzing recent removal and expulsion orders, Border Report has found that the Biden administration is already increasing its use of Title 8 to remove asylum-seekers from the United States.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection had a 37% increase in the number of migrants processed under Title 8 in March from February, according to CBP data released this week. This is likely in preparation for the processing changes expected that Mayorkas on Friday said are coming.
Mayorkas said new policy changes will be announced soon, and will be added to the agency’s current six-pillar plan:
- Surging resources to the border.
- More efficiently using Title 8 to remove individuals from the United States.
- Attacking trans criminal organizations and drug cartels.
- Working with nonprofits to help asylum-seekers.
- Working with international partners and countries to discourage northward migration.
- Working with other countries to secure their borders.
“One cannot deter one’s way through a migration challenge,” Mayorkas said. “So our model is as follows: Build lawful pathways; cut out the smugglers who exploit these vulnerable individuals; build lawful pathways that give individuals an opportunity to reach the United States safely, in an orderly way to avail themselves of the humanitarian relief our laws provide, and then deliver consequence for those who do not avail themselves of those lawful pathways.”
“We’ve been doing all of that, and I think we’re going to be unveiling some new efforts over the coming days,” Mayorkas said.
Mayorkas also announced the department’s first-ever Artificial Intelligence Task Force, which will look into ways that DHS can incorporate AI into the processing of migrants along the Southwest border with Mexico.
He said using AI is in its “nascent stage” and would not specify exactly what they intend technology to do, but he indicated it would help to alleviate some responsibilities from Border Patrol agents.
“The profound evolution in the homeland security threat environment, changing at a pace faster than ever before, has required our Department of Homeland Security to evolve along with it,” he said.
He said they also expect to integrate AI into the supply chain and U.S. trade to screen cargo, identify the importation of goods, and to counter the flow of fentanyl into the United States.
Mayorkas also repeatedly specified the threats from China, including its production of fentanyl precursors and other drugs that are flooding U.S. markets and crossing the border leading to record overdoses of U.S. citizens.
He announced a department-wide 90-day sprint to counter threats from China.
Mayorkas also repeatedly took the speech as an opportunity to tout the need for Congress to approve the requested DHS budget of $103.2 billion, which includes $60.4 billion in discretionary spending for Fiscal Year 2024. This would be an 8% increase from $95 billion the agency received in Fiscal Year 2023, and includes nearly $20 billion for CBP.
He says the funds are necessary for his agency of 260,000 to carry out all of its operations to keep the United States safe.
DHS was formed in the aftermath of the 911 attacks. He says in order for the agency to evolve, it must be forward-thinking.
“We must instead look to the future and imagine the otherwise unimaginable, to ensure that whatever threats we face, our department – our country – will be positioned to meet the moment,” he said.
Sandra Sanchez can be reached at Ssanchez@borderreport.com