Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas defended the Biden administration’s handling of a variety of immigration issues at a Senate hearing Thursday where the characterization of conditions at the border split largely along party lines.
Mayorkas repeatedly touted the progress made in reducing the number of children sitting in Customs and Border Protection custody and pointed out that the number has dropped in recent months.
The number of unaccompanied children taken into custody roughly doubled from February to March, accounting for about 18,890 individuals, according to officials. Fewer unaccompanied children crossed the border in April, according to CBP, and the number of unaccompanied minors in USBP custody dropped dramatically while the rate of transfer to better-equipped Health and Human Services facilities increased. The number of total arrests and detentions at the border, however, increased slightly to 178,622 in April.
Most migrants were sent back using a public health code U.S. Title 42, a controversial policy that facilitates the rapid removal or “expulsion” of migrants from the border. The Trump administration invoked “Title 42” last year, citing the global pandemic as the central reason behind turning people away quickly. The Biden administration has continued its use with the exception of children who were exempted from “Title 42” by a judge in November.