Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas told Congress on Tuesday that the Biden administration is aiming to relocate the thousands of migrants camped along the U.S. border in Del Rio, Texas by the month’s end.
“Our goal is to do so within the next 10 days or nine days,” Mayorkas said in response to questioning from Sen. James Lankford (R-Ok.).
Mayorkas told members of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs committee that officials “expect to see dramatic results within the next 48 to 96” hours, at which point they’ll have a better grasp of the remaining task.
Mayorkas said that the administration is continuing to ramp up “the frequency and number” of repatriation flights for the migrants, the bulk of whom hail from Haiti.
He said that DHS is also transporting them to other processing centers in order to expedite the process and get them out of the makeshift campsite along the U.S.-Mexico border that has ballooned in recent days to include thousands of would-be asylum seekers.
Mayorkas had been peppered with questions about the fast-developing situation involving Haitian migrants, as well as the Biden administration’s approach to border security and illegal border crossings more broadly.
Images of the dire conditions that many of the Haitian migrants are residing in, as well as of Border Patrol agents on horseback confronting migrants, has inflamed lawmakers from both parties, adding another dimension to an already thorny issue for an administration that has pledged to deliver a “fair and humane” immigration policy.
The White House has decried the alleged behavior by the agents, some of whom appeared to be using whips or similar objects to intimidate the migrants. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Office of Professional Responsibility opened an investigation on Monday into the situation.
Earlier Tuesday, Mayorkas said that “any mistreatment or abuse of a migrant is unacceptable,” and promised an expeditious investigation into the allegations.
“I’m going to let the investigation run its course, but the pictures that I observed troubled me profoundly,” he said on CNN. “That defies all of the values that we seek to instill in our people.”
Pressed further on the issue during the committee hearing, Mayorkas reiterated his disgust at the alleged behavior by border patrol agents.
“I was horrified to see the images, and we look forward to learning the facts that are deduced from the investigation and we will take actions those facts compel,” he said.
Mayorkas returned to Washington, D.C. for the hearing after traveling to Del Rio on Monday to assess the situation there.