On Thursday, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas was repeatedly pressed by CNN’s Wolf Blitzer as to how many Haitian immigrants have been released into the United States but repeatedly dodged answering the question with a specific number.
The Department of Homeland Security acknowledged on Thursday that 1,401 Haitian immigrants had been returned to Haiti on 12 flights, 3,206 remain in custody, and 5,000 are left in the Del Rio sector, as Fox News reported.
Blitzer asked Mayorkas, “What’s the situation right now? I understand the Department of Homeland Security says 1,400 Haitians have been deported. How many have actually been released here into the United States?”
Mayorkas dodged, “Wolf, we have indeed removed approximately 1,400 people from the Del Rio sector. We accumulate our statistics on a monthly basis, and, of course, we’ll publish those as well. The individuals whom we release and place into immigration enforcement proceedings are those, for example, with acute medical conditions, specific vulnerabilities, or if our operational capacity so dictates.”
“It’s very important, Wolf, to underscore the fact that this is not a matter of immigration policy, but rather this is a matter of public health policy,” he continued. “We are applying the law pursuant to an order that the Centers for Disease Control issued in light of the fact that this country and the world is in the midst of a pandemic. We are exercising that authority, as we are required to do, to protect the health and well-being of the migrants themselves, our personnel, local communities and the American public.”
“So, I take it, 1,400 have been sent back to Haiti. There’s a local organization helping migrants, say more than 1,000 have been released here into the United States. Is that right? Have a thousand Haitians been allowed to stay in the United States at least for now?” Blitzer pressed.
“Well, what we are doing is we are continuing to remove individuals,” Mayorkas dodged again. “We have moved people from Del Rio to other processing centers along the border, to ensure the safety and security of the individuals and to facilitate the removal process. Those individuals who are not able to remove by reason of their acute medical conditions, we place in immigration enforcement proceedings or address our operational capacities as need be. But we are very focused on applying the public health laws that we are obligated to enforce.”
Blitzer persisted, “So, can you give us a number, how many have been allowed to stay here in the United States, for whatever reason?”
Mayorkas stubbornly refused to answer, saying, “We believe it is a very small percentage of the total that assembled in Del Rio, Texas, and that will be removed.”
“What does that mean? “ Blitzer asked. “About 15,000 have shown up. I take it, 1,400 have been sent back to Haiti. What about the rest?”
“Wolf, if it’s 10 percent or 15 percent, I don’t have the precise numbers,” Mayorkas said. “I assure you it’s a minority of the individuals for the reasons that I have articulated, and they are placed in immigration enforcement proceedings, where they are able, where they appear before a judge, and if, in fact, they make a valid claim to remain in the United States, then, of course, we honor that. And if not, they are removed as well.”
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