DHS boss calls for more deportations, defends ICE behind closed doors

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Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas echoed former President Donald Trump during a recent behind-closed-doors meeting, vowing to stand up for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, advocate for more deportations and take on sanctuary cities, according to a report.

Taking several stances apparently at odds with President Biden’s softer approach on immigration as compared to that of Trump, Mayorkas made the comments during a virtual town hall with ICE employees last week, according to the Washington Times, which reviewed notes from the meeting.

“I’m 100 percent opposed to the abolition of ICE,” Mayorkas reportedly said, rebuffing what has been a rallying cry among some left-wing immigration advocates.

“It is the opposite of what I think needs to occur,” he continued. “I think we need to strengthen our policies and practices and communicate more effectively what we do and why we do it.”

It was previously reported that, during the meeting, Mayorkas expressed an interest in filling in “gaps” in the wall along the US-Mexico border, after candidate Biden spent months on the campaign trail deriding the Trump-era project.

He also advocated for increasing the number of deportations with the federal Department of Justice — reversing course from a sharp decline seen during the early months of the Biden administration.

“I see cases now where we apprehend and remove individuals that I think need to be prosecuted criminally,” he reportedly said, specifically calling for more liberal application of Title 8 Section 1326, which makes it a felony to re-enter the US after having been ousted previously.

“Quite frankly, I’m going to have to understand why some of these individuals are not subject to a Title 8 USC 1326 case, and I intend to work with the DOJ in that regard,” he said.

One ICE member reportedly griped during the meeting that officials in sanctuary cities who are opposed to the agency’s deportation work refuse to work with ICE on other criminal investigations.

Mayorkas reassured the agent that he would take on cities with “blanket policies” of unwillingness to partner with ICE, but apparently did not offer specifics on how he would do so.

“I know the jurisdictions, and that is going to be one of my significant priorities,” he said. “I think we have a lot of education to do and I think we have a lot of educating to do not only with city officials in terms of what we do and how we do it. But I think we have a lot of educating to do of the American public.”

Still, Mayorkas reportedly defended the tightening of criteria under which ICE can take enforcement action under Biden, as opposed to the Trump era, when nearly anyone in the country illegally was fair game.

“Every law enforcement agency to which I have been a part, or which I have worked, has priorities in light of the fact that it doesn’t have unlimited resources,” he said.

But he added that the guidelines are not “set in stone,” and that some changes may be in the works.

“I know there may be disagreements about where those lines are drawn, and we’re going to be talking about that in the coming weeks,” he reportedly said.

DHS declined comment to the Washington Times on Mayorkas’ remarks, noting that some portions of the discussion were “sensitive” with respect to law enforcement actions.

Mayorkas was previously forced to ask DHS employees to reinforce the border on a volunteer basis to keep up with the “overwhelming” surge of tens of thousands of Central American migrants who have made the crossing since Biden took office.

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