Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas' meeting with Border Patrol agents in the Yuma Sector on Wednesday did not go well after he admitted the staggering number of illegal border crossings has made the agents' job more difficult.
In an audio recording of his remarks to the agents, which was obtained by Townhall, Mayorkas conceded the massive influx of people illegally crossing into the sector, along with the rest of the southern sectors, has not been easy.
"The job has not gotten any easier over the last few months and it was very, very difficult throughout 2021. I know apprehending families and kids is not what you signed up to do. And now we got a composition that is changing even more with Cubans, Venezuelans, Nicaraguans, and the like, it just gets more difficult," Mayorkas said in the recording.
Mayorkas said DHS is trying to work with the Mexican government to stop the flow of immigrants before they reach the U.S. border.
"I know the policies of this administration are not particularly popular with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, but that's the reality and let's see what we can do within that framework," Mayorkas added.
An agent pressed Mayorkas on how DHS can reconcile saying border security is the main mission for Border Patrol, yet agents are unable to patrol the border due to the policies the Biden administration has in place. Border Patrol agents are being utilized to process the thousands of illegal immigrants.
Mayorkas said he appreciated "the candor" and explained he is working to ensure agents have the personnel, funding, and equipment they need to do their job. The agent replied they have been hearing that answer for years.
According to sources present at the meeting and the audio recording, the agent who asked the question then turned his back on Mayorkas.
"Let me just say, you can turn your back on me but I'll never turn my back on you," Mayorkas said. The agent replied Mayorkas turned his back on the agents first.
Another agent told Mayorkas there are many issues in the Yuma Sector, pointing to the overcrowding of family units at their processing site and that handling them is not their responsibility. Mayorkas reiterated that agents being pulled off of the border to process illegal immigrants is not what they signed up to do.
The second agent said it has been "demoralizing" to see politicians and others "demonize" Border Patrol when they often save illegal immigrants from injury and death. It is a possible reference to the outrage that was started over false claims that agents on horseback were "whipping" people illegally crossing the border in the Del Rio Sector, which included Mayorkas, Vice President Kamala Harris, and President Joe Biden.
Mayorkas said he understands being demonized because he has had threats against his life and the life of his family.
Another agent asked Mayorkas about the low number of people being enrolled in the Migrant Protection Protocols, also known as "Remain in Mexico," a policy the Biden administration was forced to re-up by court order after Biden attempted to shut down the program.
"The numbers are not where they need to be. I agree with that," Mayorkas admitted, adding the U.S. is still negotiating with Mexico.
Mayorkas revealed he has approved for gaps in the border wall system, which were created when Biden ordered a halt on construction, to be filled, particularly where gates were supposed to be installed.
"Look, it's worse now than it, frankly, has been in at least 20 years, if not ever," Mayorkas said at another point in the meeting, regarding the overall situation at the border.
One exasperated agent told Mayorkas the situation in the Yuma Sector was much better under former President Donald Trump because "everyone was doing their jobs."
In the recording, Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz did not seem happy with the questions being asked because, according to him, it came off as griping instead of coming to Mayorkas with solutions.
Mayorkas can be then heard going back to the first agent who turned his back on him and asked how long he had been part of Border Patrol. When the agent replied with 16 years, Mayorkas said he was prosecuting death penalty cases in California, "You don't know anything about me."
The agent said he knows Mayorkas has had a long career, but "you said you're going to change it, the only thing that's changed is it's gotten worse."
Sources at the meeting told Townhall Mayorkas was visibly upset. DHS did not respond to a request for comment in time for publication.
Editor's Note: Audio distortion is a result of being discreetly recorded by a U.S. Border Patrol agent.
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