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  4. Secretary Mayorkas Delivers Remarks Following an Operational Briefing

Secretary Mayorkas Delivers Remarks Following an Operational Briefing

Release Date: February 29, 2024

Secretary Mayorkas delivered the following remarks after receiving an operational briefing in Brownsville, Texas, alongside President Biden. 

Good afternoon. 

At the outset, I want to echo the President’s words about the tragic fires in Texas and Oklahoma. We in the Department of Homeland Security, especially our agency FEMA, are intensely focused on providing the support, resources, and assistance the impacted residents and communities need. We are grateful to the brave firefighters and other frontline personnel as they combat the flames that continue to burn. 

Mr. President, thank you for visiting the men and women here at the border in Brownsville, Texas, who dedicate themselves to the safety and security of our country and the enforcement of our laws. 

The operational brief you received today demonstrated several crucial points: 

First, you were able to, once again, see up close the extraordinary talent, tireless dedication, and true heroism of our personnel who give so much of themselves every day – many at great personal risk – to secure our border, disrupt and dismantle dangerous cartels and smuggling operations, keep fentanyl out of our communities, rescue victims, and so much more. I am incredibly proud of the men and women, in and out of uniform, who serve our country through their work for our United States Department of Homeland Security. 

Second, you heard about the dynamic and challenging phenomenon of irregular migration we face, as our hemisphere and the world experience the greatest displacement of people since World War II. At times last year, 30% of the encounters across our entire southern land border occurred in this Rio Grande Valley Sector. Today, we discussed the dramatic changes our partners in the south have helped bring about by increasing their enforcement, before people reach the U.S. border. 

Third, you heard from DHS leadership about how resource-starved we continue to be. Only Congress can address our desperate need for more border patrol agents, field operations officers, immigration enforcement agents and officers, asylum officers, immigration judges, support personnel, facilities, and technology. You can see the impact these resources will have on our ability to strengthen our security, advance our mission to protect the homeland, and enforce our nation’s laws quickly and effectively. 

Though Congress has not yet provided the resources we need, DHS will continue to enforce the law and work to secure our border. We have listened to our workforce and, leveraging every available asset, equipped them with new technology, logistical support, innovative tools, 11 new processing facilities, and hundreds of additional processing coordinators and support personnel. We are removing and returning historic numbers of migrants who entered illegally and failed to qualify for relief. Just since mid-May, we have removed or returned more such migrants than in any full fiscal year since 2015. We have provided asylum officers new authority to streamline the asylum claims process; implemented regulatory changes that incentivize migrants to follow safe, orderly, and lawful pathways; and so much more.  

The importance of passing the bipartisan legislation to fix our broken immigration system and add much-needed resources cannot be overstated; nor can the heroism of our personnel who accomplish so much for our country with so much less than what they need and deserve. 

Finally, Mr. President, you heard about the difference that cooperation, collaboration, and communication between federal personnel and local officials can make in the efficient and effective enforcement of our laws. Unlike Texas Governor Abbott’s efforts to undermine federal border enforcement, the leaders in Brownsville serve as a model of cooperation in addressing – together – the challenges that irregular migration present. All in the service of this community and our country. 

Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you to the public officials here at all levels of government, and thank you to the extraordinary public servants of the United States Department of Homeland Security. 


Last Updated: 03/27/2024
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