Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said Sunday that he is focused on getting congressional support to fix the "broken immigration system" in the U.S. as the Biden administration braces for what is expected to be a record surge in migration across the southern border.
Asked by NBC News' Chuck Todd in an exclusive interview on "Meet the Press" what border enforcement support the administration needs ahead of the lifting of Covid restrictions next month, Mayorkas said: “We need resources for it all."
"Remember, the resources will enable us to move more quickly, more efficiently within a broken immigration system," Mayorkas said, as he demanded legislative reform to assist the administration's efforts to secure the border.
“So I just want to be clear that we are working within significant constraints. We need people. We need technology. We need facilities. We need transportation resources. All of the elements of addressing the needs of a large population of people arriving irregularly at our southern border," he said.
The Biden administration and its border officials are bracing for a massive surge in migrants when the Covid restrictions, known as Title 42, end on May 11. Federal immigration authorities said last week that local officials are already short on the money and space needed to handle migrants.
The Border Patrol union has previously criticized Mayorkas, calling for him to be impeached for his alleged failures in addressing the situation along the border. Mayorkas said Sunday that his mission involves drawing support from Congress to help agents along the border: “I look at their needs. I try to fulfill their needs. We go to Congress and seek support.
"You know, this is the first administration since 2011 that has plussed up the border patrol with more agents. Our request of Congress for fiscal year 2024 is another 350 Border Patrol agents. That hasn’t happened for over 12 years."
Mayorkas also stressed that the trafficking of fentanyl by cartels must be addressed. “We have to stop the flow of fentanyl, and we also have to address the demand,” he said, adding that the U.S. has a “very close partnership” with Mexico and transnational criminal investigative units inside the country.
Much of the precursor chemical and the equipment used to manufacture fentanyl originates from China, Mayorkas said.
“We are working with our Mexican authorities,” he said. “We are working with our partners internationally to put pressure on China to interdict the flow, to identify the transport companies, to cut off the finances, to hold individuals and companies accountable.”
Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Troy Miller testified before Congress this month that he expects roughly 10,000 migrants to cross the border daily when the ban ends, doubling the current flow.
Two DHS officials previously told NBC News the current immigration system at the U.S. border would be maxed out if numbers exceed 10,000, leaving Border Patrol and shelters without the capacity to take all undocumented migrants into temporary custody and process them.
Title 42 has blocked migrants from crossing over the U.S.-Mexico border to seek asylum more than 2.5 million times since it was put in place at the start of the pandemic. The lifting of restrictions on May 11 marks the third time the Biden administration has sought to lift the measure. Previous attempts were blocked by courts, but this time a court challenge is unlikely to prevent the ban from being lifted.