Mayorkas defends US border policy after 53 migrants killed in tractor-trailer

Washington— Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Sunday defended the Biden administration’s immigration policy in the wake of the death of 53 migrants who were abandoned in the back of a tractor-trailer, saying U.S. immigration officials have repeatedly warned against traveling to the southern border.

“We’ve said many times and we continue to warn people not to take the dangerous journey,” Mayorkas said in an interview with ‘Face the Nation’. “We have seen so tragically in San Antonio, Texas one of the possible tragic outcomes of this dangerous journey and so many people don’t even make it that far into the hands of exploitative smugglers. And we continue to enforce the law on immigration, as is our legal responsibility.”

The secretary said migrants traveling through Central America to the US-Mexico border often receive false information from smugglers who encourage them to attempt the journey.

“They are putting their lives, their savings, into the hands of these exploitative organizations, these criminal organizations that don’t care about their lives and are just looking to make a profit,” he said.

The death of the 53 migrants left behind in the tractor-trailer in the scorching heat of San Antonio appears to be the deadliest human trafficking case in modern US history. Federal charges have been filed against four people allegedly linked to the deaths.

Mayorkas said the Biden administration was working closely with Mexico to break up migrant caravans seeking to cross the border into the United States, and said that dealing with the high number of migrant arrivals along the southern border is a “regional challenge that requires a regional response”. “

“These are very sophisticated transnational criminal organizations. They have evolved over the last 30 years,” he said. “In the 90s I prosecuted them and they were much more rudimentary. Now they are very sophisticated, use technology and they are extraordinarily organized transnational criminal enterprises.”

But Mayorkas said the United States has also stepped up its efforts with technology and manpower, with border officials saving more than 10,000 people this year.

“Can a truck go through sophisticated means? Sometimes, yes,” he said. “But I have to say, we’ve banned more drugs at ports of entry than ever before. We’ve rescued more migrants. We see a challenge that’s truly regional, hemispheric in scope, and we’re approaching it accordingly.”

As the Biden administration continues to defend its immigration policy following recording levels migrant arrests in May and the deadly Texas smuggling campaign, he received a Supreme Court victory on Thursday, when justices cleared the way for the administration to end the Trump-era “stay in Mexico” policy.

Under the program passed under former President Donald Trump, asylum seekers had to wait for their court proceedings outside the United States.

Mayorkas said the department was “satisfied” with the decision and said the “Stay in Mexico” program had “endemic flaws” and “unjustifiable human costs.”

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