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Southwest border facing biggest migrant surge in 20 years, Homeland Security Secretary weighs in

1 year 8 months 3 weeks ago Tuesday, March 16 2021 Mar 16, 2021 March 16, 2021 11:12 PM March 16, 2021 in News - Local

In a social media post made Tuesday morning, U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas acknowledged the situation at the southwest border.

Mayorkas said the situation at the southwest border is difficult, but that work is being done around the clock to manage it.

"We are making progress and we are executing on our plan," Mayorkas said in a statement. "It will take time and we will not waver in our commitment to succeed."

According to the Associated Press, 561 migrant children were taken into federal custody on Monday.

U.S. Customers and Border protection is required to transfer unaccompanied children to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) within 72 hours. 

But Mayorkas acknowledged that the time frame is not always met due to capacity issues. 

Hugo Piña is an immigration and criminal law attorney in the Rio Grande Valley. He says even after children are processed and released to a family member or sponsor, their immigration journey is far from over.  Piña said the process can take several years. 

"A lot of them are coming alone," Piña said. "Sometimes you'll get somebody who starts here in the Harlingen court, for example and then eventually they get a relative that can pick them up. Then they get moved to, let's say to New York. Now that case has to go to New York."

Mayorkas said the southwest border is on track to encounter an influx of immigrants but said action to address the current situation at the border is already in motion. 

"We re-instituted the Central American Minors Program (CAM)," Mayorkas said. "That provides a legal and safe way for children to make their claims here in the United States, under the laws that were passed by congress many years ago."

The program will allow children to be processed in their home county and then brought to the U.S. in a safe and orderly manner, Mayorkas said.

There are plans to open additional processing centers like the tent or 'soft-sided' facility in Donna, throughout Texas and Arizona. 

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