Homeland Security secretary visits San Ysidro as questions over immigration policy remain

Border Report

SAN YSIDRO, Calif. — Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas appeared Tuesday at the San Ysidro Port of Entry, visiting with department employees and San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria.

A customs official talks with a driver during a visit by Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas at the San Ysidro port of entry Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2021, in San Diego. Mayorkas briefed reporters during his visit to border crossing connecting Tijuana, Mexico, to San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

The visit comes weeks after the border reopened to essential and nonessential travelers. Despite concerns over new variants of COVID-19, Mayorkas said there are no plans to close the border again.

But the questions for Mayorkas quickly turned to U.S. immigration policy.

“The president made a campaign promise to end the migrants’ protection protocol,” Mayorkas said.

The Biden administration recently was ordered by a court to reinstate the program informally known as Remain in Mexico. The policy, created during the Trump era, forces people to wait in Mexico while going through the immigration process.

Mayorkas said the program will be implemented until a court determines otherwise. Though the decision is being appealed, immigrant rights advocates held a demonstration on the other side of the border crossing while Mayorkas spoke.

“Unfortunately we are hearing the excuse that because of a court order they are being forced to implement MPP, but the court did not order for the Biden administration to expand on a program to add on our Haitian siblings,” said Dulce Garcia, an immigration attorney.

Advocates also spoke out about Title 42 which immediately sends asylum seekers who cross into the U.S. back to their native country or to Mexico.

“Title 42 should not be applicable to asylum-seekers,” Garcia said. “As you can see at the border, people are crossing over for shopping, for many reasons, but the border still remains closed to asylum-seekers.”

Mayorkas remarked the CDC is keeping the policy in place due to the ongoing pandemic.

“The Centers for Disease Control is authorized under the laws of the United States under Title 42 to issue certain requirements to protect the migrant population, to protect our workforce and to protect the communities of the American public,” he said.

Mayorkas also reminded people what the current protocols are for crossing the border at the pedestrian crossings.

Currently, all nonessential travelers must be prepared to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination and beginning Jan. 22, that process will include all essential travelers as well.

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