MSNBC host Chuck Todd pressed Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Sunday over the crisis at the U.S. southern border.
While appearing on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Mayorkas cited the administration’s actions on handling migrants and claimed “the border is closed.” Todd disputed his claim, asking, “how can you say the border is closed?” (RELATED: Jonathan Swan Suggests Border Crisis Was ‘Foreseeable’ When Biden Reversed Trump Policies)
Todd began the discussion by reading a quote from Democratic Texas Rep. Vicente Gonzalez criticizing President Joe Biden’s administration for incentivizing people to cross the border illegally. He then asked Mayorkas if he was concerned a “market efficiency” has been created where people decide their children have a shot to get into the U.S. if they attempt to go alone.
“Our message has been straightforward and simple, and it’s true. The border is closed. We are expelling families, we are expelling single adults, and we’ve made a decision that we will not expel young, vulnerable children,” Mayorkas answered. “I think we are executing on our plans and, quite frankly, when we are finished doing so, the American public will look back on this and say we’ve secured our border and we upheld our values and our principles as a nation.”
“How can you say the border is closed if there is this, what some would look at as a loophole,” Todd asked. “I understand on humanitarian grounds, but if the goal is to get these asylum seekers to seek the asylum in home country, Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, for instance, how do you get them to do that if our policy is to let them in at the border?”
Mayorkas explained the administration has short, medium, and long-term plans, but didn’t go into details as to what they are. He then asked Todd to remember that former President Donald Trump “dismantled” how the country allowed children to make asylum claims under U.S. law in their countries of origin. He concluded that the administration is “rebuilding” those processes, but will not expel children “into the Mexican desert” in the meantime.
DHS announced Mar. 13 that it was deploying FEMA to the border to assist with handling unaccompanied migrant children. Over 9,400 unaccompanied minors were detained in February with DHS saying they will not be expelled, despite the lack of housing space for them.