DHS Chief Mayorkas Speaks Immigration to Latino Senate Democrats

By Suzanne Monyak | CQ appeal

WASHINGTON – Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas discussed immigration policy with the four Latino Senate Democrats Tuesday afternoon as the administration prepares to lift pandemic-related border restrictions later this year.

The group, which met for nearly an hour in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Room, included Foreign Relations Committee Chair Bob Menendez of New Jersey, Senator Alex Padilla of California, Chair of the Judiciary Committee on Immigration Committee, and Senator Catherine Cortez Masto from New Jersey Nevada and Ben Ray Luján from New Mexico.

Menendez described the meeting as a “positive, constructive discussion on a wide range of immigration issues that we believe should be considered by the administration.”

Menendez said the four senators expressed concern about the pandemic border deportation policy known as Title 42, as well as a forthcoming policy proposal announced last month that would limit asylum eligibility for migrants transiting another country en route to the US-Mexico Border. Menendez said he expects the rule “in a couple of weeks.”

“We hope he brings back to the administration what we had to say and share,” Menendez said in a brief interview, adding, “He was in a listening mode.”

Padilla said the meeting had been “productive” and “immigration is the focus”, including the upcoming end of Title 42 and the “modernization of the asylum system”.

“That was constructive. He clearly knows what he’s doing. It’s probably one of the toughest jobs in the federal government,” Padilla said as he left.

Tuesday’s meeting marked the first time Mayorkas had met in person with the four senators of the Congressional Hispanic caucuses this calendar year. Mayorkas met with members of the Hispanic Caucus practically last month, where caucus leaders said they criticized the secretary for not consulting them adequately before announcing a separate major migration initiative that opened limited legal avenues for certain migrants while also reducing enforcement mechanisms reinforced at the border.

As for Tuesday’s meeting, Menendez said the DHS chief “asked for it.”

The discussion came less than three months before the planned end of the controversial Title 42 border policy, which since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic has allowed border officials to quickly expel migrants without considering their asylum claims.

The administration has announced that it has no intention of renewing the COVID-19 emergency public health orders, instead phasing them out on May 11. The administration has stated that it believes the expiry of these orders will also result in the repeal of the Border Designation Directive.

The Biden administration is under increasing pressure on Capitol Hill over its policies on the US-Mexico border, which has seen record high migration. The debate over the border has put Mayorkas in particular in the spotlight — and squarely in Republican crosshairs.

House Republicans, now in the majority, have announced plans to begin impeachment proceedings against the chief of Homeland Security. The agency has hired outside attorneys to handle such cases, signaling that the department takes the threat seriously.

Republicans in Congress and even some border-state Democrats have also warned the administration against repealing the Title 42 policy, fearing it will attract more migrants to the border.

Meanwhile, other Democrats in Congress have chastised the administration for maintaining border restrictions for as long as they have, pointing to significant harm to asylum seekers seeking protection.

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https://www.ocregister.com/2023/02/18/dhs-chief-mayorkas-talks-immigration-with-latino-senate-democrats-3/ DHS Chief Mayorkas Speaks Immigration to Latino Senate Democrats

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