FACT CHECK: Mayorkas Misleads On Border Status During House Judiciary Committee Hearing

Christine Sellers | Fact Check Reporter

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas claimed the U.S. border is “not open” during a July 26 House Judiciary Committee hearing.

Verdict: Misleading

While border crossings have not completely ceased, data from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) website shows a decrease in Southwest Land Encounters in Fiscal Year 2023 to date as compared with Fiscal Year 2022.

Fact Check:

A federal judge struck down a Biden administration asylum policy July 25, according to Politico. The judge said the policy, which prevents migrants from entering the U.S. without legal permission and without first seeking asylum in another country, violates asylum law, CBS News reported.

Mayorkas testified before the House Judiciary Committee, which held a hearing on border security. When asked by New York Democratic Rep. Jerry Nadler if the U.S. border is open, Mayorkas responded, “No, it is not.”

The claim appears to be exaggerated. Data available via CBP’s website indicates there has been a total of 1,789,605 Southwest Land Border Encounters in Fiscal Year 2023, with 144,571 encounters being documented in June. The same data reveals single adults account for 66.72% of Southwest Land Border Encounters in Fiscal Year 2023 to date.

Compared to the number of Southwest Land Border Encounters documented in Fiscal Year 2022, those representing Fiscal Year 2023 are slightly lower. CBP saw a total of 2,378,844 Southwest Land Border Encounters in Fiscal Year 2022, with single adults representing 69.92% of those encounters, according to the same data.

Likewise, CBP said it had apprehended 86 fugitives since July 1 at ports of entry in the El Paso Field Office, according to Border Report. The El Paso Field Office includes the Texas cities of El Paso, Ysleta, Tornillo, and Presidio, as well as Santa Teresa and Columbus in New Mexico, the outlet reported. The fugitives were wanted for crimes such as homicide, human trafficking, and larceny, among others.

Although border crossings have not completely ceased, unlawful entries have decreased 70 percent following the end of Title 42 back in May of 2023, DHS said, according to a Jun. 6 article from ABC News. Statistics the department released at the time showed approximately 3,700 unscheduled encounters occurring per day, the outlet reported.

In addition, DHS repatriated over 38,400 non-citizens to over 80 countries under Title 8, the outlet indicated. (RELATED: Is A Liverpool Bank Being Refurbished To House Asylum Seekers?)

Title 42 asw an emergency health order that prevented migrants from entering the U.S. in 2020 during the global COVID-19 pandemic, according to The Associated Press. Title 8, on the other hand, outlines the processes and penalties for deportation, including five and 10 year re-entry bans.

Though the number of border crossings has decreased, Republicans remain critical of Mayorkas. During the hearing, Colorado Republican Rep. Ken Buck told Mayorkas it was his fault people are dying of fentanyl poisoning as a result of DHS’s handling of fentanyl trafficking, CNN reported. Ohio Republican Rep. Jim Jordan warned Mayorkas to prepare to provide data to substantiate his claims, according to the outlet.

Check Your Fact has contacted DHS, CBP, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the White House for comment and will update this piece accordingly if one is received.

Christine Sellers

Fact Check Reporter