Director of the Department of Homeland Security
Sept. 20, 2021, at the U.S. Southern Border
I am on the ground in Del Rio where I have received an operational briefing and witnessed first-hand the steps being taken to address the recent increase in migrant encounters.
I first want to thank the United States Border Patrol, led by Chief Raul Ortiz, a native of Del Rio, for responding to this challenging and heart-breaking situation. I am grateful for the Chief’s extraordinary leadership.
I also want to welcome, of course, Commissioner Troy Miller, who’s been leading the U.S. Customs and Border Protection since January 20 and has been doing an extraordinary job.
We are in the midst of a pandemic and a critical migration challenge. We continue to exercise the Centers for Disease Control’s Title 42 authority. Title 42 is not an immigration authority but a public health authority to protect the American public, to protect the communities along the border, and to protect the migrants themselves.
I want to share with you some of the steps we are taking to address the current situation here in Del Rio. CBP has surged 600 agents, officers, and DHS volunteer force personnel to the Del Rio sector to enhance our operational capabilities. If additional staff is needed, more will be sent.
Border Patrol is coordinating with ICE and the U.S. Coast Guard to move individuals from Del Rio to other processing locations—including approximately 3,500 over the last few days and 3,000 today—in order to ensure that migrants are swiftly taken into custody, processed, and removed from the United States consistent with our laws and policies.
We in DHS are securing additional transportation to accelerate the pace and increase the capacity of removal flights to Haiti and other destinations in the Western Hemisphere. We are working to increase the capacity of return flights to Haiti and other destinations. We anticipate at least one to three flights per day. The Biden Administration is working with source and transit countries in the region to accept individuals who previously resided in those countries.
We are undertaking urgent humanitarian actions with other relevant federal, state, and local partners to reduce crowding and improve conditions for migrants on United States soil. DHS has already taken a number of steps to ensure the safety and security of individuals as they await processing, including having Border Patrol emergency medical technicians on-hand, and providing water, towels, and portable toilets. This is all part of an all-of-government and whole-of-community effort. We have brought in personnel from the Department of Health and Human Services to address medical needs and supplies. We’ve also worked with the American Red Cross to bring in supplies and much needed resources to the population. We have worked with the World Central Kitchen to bring in meals for the migrants. Not only do we leverage the resources and capabilities of the Department of Homeland Security, we look across the Federal government and in partnership with civil society, local resources, to see what we can do to bring more capabilities to bear to meet the challenge, and that is indeed what we are doing here.
Finally, the White House has directed appropriate U.S. agencies to work with the Haitian and other regional governments to provide assistance and support to returnees. The majority of migrants continue to be expelled under CDC’s Title 42 authority. Those who cannot be expelled under that authority and do not have a legal basis to remain will be placed in expedited removal proceedings. DHS is conducting regular expulsion and removal flights to Haiti, Mexico, Ecuador, and Northern Triangle countries.
We are very concerned that Haitians who are taking this irregular migration path are receiving false information that the border is open, or that Temporary Protected Status is available. I want to make sure that it is known that this is not the way to come to the United States. That is false information. Irregular migration poses a serious security risk to the migrants themselves. Trying to enter the United States illegally is not worth the tragedy, the money, or the effort. As we have said consistently since we published the Federal Register Notice officially designating Haiti for Temporary Protected Status—or TPS—only Haitians living in the United States before July 29 are eligible for Temporary Protected Status.
We have reiterated that our borders are not open, and people should not make the dangerous journey. Individuals and families are subject to border restrictions, including expulsion. Irregular migration poses a significant threat to the health and welfare of border communities, and to the lives of the migrants themselves, and should not be attempted. If you come to the United States illegally, you will be returned. Your journey will not succeed, and you will be endangering your life and your family’s lives. This Administration is committed to developing safe, orderly, and humane pathways for migration, but this is not the way to do it. Thank you.
It is my pleasure to introduce Commissioner Troy Miller of the United States Customs and Border Protection.