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Mayorkas: Executive orders aren’t enough to solve the migrant crisis

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Executive action alone cannot solve the immigration crisis at America’s southern border, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said Sunday, urging Congress to pass legislation to alleviate the issue.

While the White House is considering all its options, Mayorkas said during an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union,” “administrative action is no substitute for an enduring solution.”

“When we take administrative actions as we have done a number of times, we are challenged in court. Legislation is the enduring solution,” Mayorkas told CNN’s Dana Bash. “And by the way, we can, not, through administrative action, plus up the United States border patrol, customs and border protection by 1,500 personnel like this legislation proposes; we cannot through administrative action add 4,300 asylum officers so that we can work through the backlog and turn the system into an efficient and well working one, which it hasn’t been for more than three decades.”

Legislation seems unlikely to pass in a divided Congress, particularly after House Republicans tanked a bipartisan border bill negotiated in the Senate, with Speaker Mike Johnson declaring it dead on arrival.

Former President Donald Trump, the likely GOP nominee for president, has pushed members of his party to block the bipartisan proposal, denying President Joe Biden a signature immigration policy achievement ahead of the November election.

Both candidates traveled to the southern border last week as immigration tops Americans’ concerns heading into the election this fall. Biden officials and surrogates have dialed up their rhetoric on the issue — in an effort to dull one of Trump’s top campaign cudgels.

Trump and his allies argue that Biden can move to stem the flow of migrants across the southern border through executive action, without any assistance from Congress. Democrats have pointed out that Republicans have frequently been critical of Biden for the times he has acted on his own and issued executive orders, as with student loans.

While the Biden administration was reportedly considering new executive orders to adapt the asylum process, Mayorkas provided little detail about what was still on the table during the interview Sunday.

“The important message that we communicated from Brownsville, Texas is the fact that Congress needs to act,” he said.