Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas is expected to face a tough grilling from Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee, as the GOP seeks to keep an order for pandemic-justified border restrictions in place.
Mayorkas defended the administration’s plan to lift Title 42 in front of the House Appropriations subcommittee and House Homeland Security Committee on Wednesday, saying the decision lies with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Our responsibility in the Department of Homeland Security is to implement the Title 42 authority of the CDC at our border and to implement it effectively and judiciously according to the law,” Mayorkas said.
He admitted that “there can be an increase in migratory flows” at the southern border should the order be lifted. But, as the CDC has called for it to end, DHS must “prepare and plan for that eventuality.”
On April 1, the CDC announced it would be ending the Trump-era Title 42 policy on May 23. The health order has allowed border officials for two years to quickly expel migrants without hearing asylum claims.
A Louisiana federal judge has temporarily blocked the lifting of the order and no action can be taken until a hearing – scheduled for May 13 – is held.
Republican and Democratic lawmakers have both pushed back on the move, citing an expected migration surge.
Mayorkas is scheduled to appear before the House Judiciary Committee at 10:00a.m.
Ranking Member Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) is expected to press the secretary hard on Title 42 – particularly the department’s plan for processing at the border after the order is lifted.
Mayorkas will also likely face questioning over his Wednesday remarks and could see more calls to resign.
During his testimony, he repeated a frequent administration talking point, saying they “inherited a broken and dismantled system” from the previous administration and claimed “we have effectively managed an unprecedented number of non-citizens seeking to enter the United States.”
Ultimately, he pointed to Congress, saying the current system is “not built to manage the current levels and types of migratory flows.”
“Only Congress can fix this.”
Additionally, Mayokas revealed that the cost of discontinuing DHS-led border wall projects has cost approximately $72 million.
The secretary’s testimonies come as the number of migrant encounters at the southern border remain at record levels. March alone saw 221,000 encounters – the highest number of any single month since the start of the Biden administration.