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Homeland Security Secretary visits Texas-Mexico border days ahead of Title 42 ending

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas
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Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas spoke about government's readiness and response to southwest border in the Rio Grande Valley.

Mayorkas toured the area's busiest border sector Tuesday morning.

Mayorkas was briefed around 2 p.m. on the current status of Title 42, which allows the Public Health Authority to turn migrants away at the border.

He made four stops along the border near McAllen.

The first was at the Border Patrol’s Rio Grande Valley Sector, which is the agency’s busiest section of border, and the McAllen Station, which includes about 49 miles of the Rio Grande, is the area’s busiest.

Mayorkas was briefed just after 6 a.m. by local Border Patrol officials, who asked for more manpower and technology to help battle the increasing border security crisis. They also said that traffic has shifted in recent months from family units to single adults.

His second stop was down the river near La Joya where he was briefed on technology, including aerostat balloons, which are the eyes in the sky for border patrol, as it has radar installed to detect border crossing activity.

Another stop was Anzalduas Park, which is a launching point for Border Patrol and Texas Game Warden boats to patrol up and down the river.

Border Patrol officials said there are 43 boats in the sector, manned by 114 agents, though there are slots for about 200 agents. Officials said the ranks of river patrol agents shrunk during the pandemic, in part because training was curtailed during the pandemic.

Between Border Patrol and Texas authorities – game wardens and DPS – there are typically about 40 boats on the water in the area at any given time, officials said.

The last stop was at Guerra Gap, not far from Hidalgo Port of Entry. Mayorkas was briefed on security camera and surveillance systems, including a small drone that can be launched by agents on the ground.

This part is the single busiest stretch of the entire Southwest border. Agents said they've made 90,000 arrests since October.

Mayorkas provided an update as he received operational briefings on the readiness and response at the Southwest border.

He shared the Department of Homeland Security's "6 pillars of response to Title 42 ending."

"We are working on bolstering the capacity of non-government organizations and local jurisdictions to address different challenges that increase migration that bears upon them," Mayorkas said. "They have been instrumental in our ability to address the challenges thus far, we recognize that with the end of title 42 they're very well be an increase a surge in migration and we have to equip them with the resources and capabilities to address that increase as well."

A federal judge in Louisiana is expected to rule in favor of 24 states seeking to keep Title 42 in effect while litigation proceeds.

U.S. District Judge Robert Summerhays has said he will rule before May 23.

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