After 1.5 million arrests, DHS says border is ‘secure’

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After 1.5 million arrests, DHS says border is 'secure'

Border officials have apprehended more than 1.5 million illegal immigrants at the southern border through the 2021 fiscal year — more than the population of at least 10 states, a congressman noted Wednesday in a hearing over the spiraling crisis. 

Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas continued to defend the administration’s handling of the influx of migrants on Wednesday during a virtual hearing with the Homeland Security Committee focused on “Worldwide Threats to the Homeland: 20 Years After 9/11,” despite the number of apprehensions steadily growing almost every month since October 2020. 

During the hearing, Rep. Michael Guest (R-Miss) pointed to apprehension data from US Customs and Border Protection that showed the steady increase and compared the numbers to that of several states’ total populations. 

Hidalgo Country sheriff's deputies detain a group of migrants outside of safe house.
Border officials have apprehended more than 1.5 million illegal immigrants at the southern border through the 2021 fiscal year.
David Butow for NY Post

“That number is greater than the population of Montana, greater than the population of Rhode Island, greater than population of Delaware population in both North and South Dakota, greater than the population of Alaska, though not a state population, the District of Columbia is better than the population of Vermont, it is greater than the population of Wyoming,” he said.

Looking at the 1.5 million apprehensions number, The Post was able to confirm that the number of apprehensions from the 2021 fiscal year is greater than the estimated populations of Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Montana, Rhode Island, Delaware, Alaska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Wyoming, and the District of Columbia. 

“I think clearly, these figures show that what we are doing along our southwest border, what the current administration has done that that’s not working,” Guest said, asking Mayorkas if he stands by his previous statements that this situation at the border is sustained. 

Mayorkas defended his previous statements and later on during the hearing confirmed his belief that the border is “secure.” 

Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas
Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas has defended the Biden administration’s handling of the influx of migrants.
Pool/Sipa USA

“I’ve been quite clear that we do have a plan to address migration at the southern border, execution takes time and we are starting to see the results,” he said, shifting attention to the apprehension numbers of August. 

Last month, border officials apprehended over 208,000 individuals along the southern border, the first dip in such numbers since October of last year. 

“I’d be very pleased to meet with you and discuss with you some of the tools that we have been waiting on to actually drive the results that we saw this past month, and we expect to see in the ongoing months.” 

Despite the dip, the Biden administration has been hit with bipartisan criticism regarding their handling of the influx of migrants. Local and state leaders have also joined with lawmakers in sharing concerns that the influx is creating national security threats for the US. 

United States Border Patrol agents on horseback try to stop Haitian migrants from entering an encampment on the banks of the Rio Grande near the Acuna Del Rio International Bridge in Del Rio, Texas on September 19, 2021.
US Border Patrol agents on horseback try to stop Haitian migrants from entering an encampment on the banks of the Rio Grande near the Acuna Del Rio International Bridge in Del Rio, Texas on Sept. 19, 2021.
Paul Ratje/AFP/Getty Images

During Wednesday’s hearing, Rep. Clay Higgins (R-LA) claimed that the lack of border security has allowed for roughly 200 suspected terrorists to enter the US. Mayorkas did not respond to Higgins’ claim. 

Thousands of migrants have flooded the southern border in recent days and last week over 10,000 camped under the Del Rio International Bridge. Hundreds of migrants were also seen traveling back and forth across the Rio Grande near the bridge in order to purchase provisions, like food and water, back in Mexico. 

As many have since been boarded onto deportation flights and criticism grows of how some border patrol officials have treated the migrants, President Biden on Tuesday vowed to get the situation “under control.”

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