Mayorkas forced to admit more migrants have crossed US border under Biden than Trump: 'Several million people'

Mayorkas said the migration challenge was a global challenge

Mayorkas acknowledges more migrants crossed the border during Biden admin than under Trump

DHS Secretary Mayorkas acknowledged Friday that more migrants have crossed the border under President Biden than under President Trump.

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Friday admitted that the number of migrants who have crossed the southern border under his watch outpaces that under the Trump administration — but blamed a number of hemispheric factors and a "broken" system for the border crisis.

Mayorkas was asked at an event at The Economic Club in Washington, D.C., about the border crisis, and the historic numbers of migrants the U.S. has been seeing in recent years. There were more than 2.4 million migrant encounters in FY 23, and that mark could be broken in FY 24, although monthly numbers have decreased.

"The number of encounters at the southern border is very high, but it's very, very important, number one, to contextualize it and, number two, to explain it," he said. From a context perspective, the world is seeing the greatest level of displacement since at least World War II."


Mexico Migrants

Migrants stand at the U.S.-Mexico border, on the banks of the Rio Grande, in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, on March 29, 2023. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano, File)

"So the challenge of migration is not exclusive to the southern border, nor to the Western Hemisphere," he said. "It is global."

Mayorkas cited violence, insecurity, poverty, corruption, authoritarian regimes and "extreme weather events" among the reasons for migration across the globe. However, he also said there were additional explanations for why the U.S. was a top destination.

"In our hemisphere, we overcame COVID more rapidly than any other country. We had, in a post-COVID world, 11 million jobs to fill, we are a country of choice as a destination, and one takes those two forces and then one considers the fact that we have an immigration system that is broken fundamentally and we have a level of encounters that we do," he asserted.

Migrants cut through border wire

Migrants cut through border wire in El Paso, Texas, on March 26. (Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

As evidence that the system is broken, Mayorkas said that the average time between an encounter and the adjuciation of an asylum claim is seven years. He was later asked by David Rubenstein, president of the Economic Club, how many people have come across the border since President Biden took office.

"It's several million people," Mayorkas said.

U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas speaks during an Economic Club of Washington event at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in Washington, D.C., on Friday. (Kent Nishimura/Getty Images)

Rubenstein asked if it was true that more people have come in under President Biden than former President Trump.

Mayorkas said it was, but said that was in part due to a suppression of migration during the COVID pandemic that followed a significant increase in migration under the last pre-COVID Trump year.


"That is true," he said. "Now in 2019, there was almost a 100% increase in the number of encounters at the southern border over 2018. The situation in the hemisphere was propelling people to leave their country. 2020 was a period of tremendously suppressed migration throughout the hemisphere and around the world because of the COVID-19 people coming over the border illegally."

The Biden administration has defended its record on immigration, saying it has combined additional consequences for illegal entry with broader pathways for lawful migration. It has coupled that with calls for reform and additional funding from Congress, including most recently a bipartisan Senate bill that has failed to pick up support. It has also pointed to 720,000 removals or returns of illegal immigrants since May 2023, more than in every full fiscal year since 2011.  


Mayorkas also noted a recent drop in numbers that showed 179,725 encounters in April, compared to 211,992 in April 2023 and 189,357 in March. 

Republicans, however, have blamed the Biden administration for the border crisis, saying it is the rolling back of Trump-era policies that have caused the surge in migration. Republicans in the House have passed their own border security bill, which would restart border wall construction and limit asylum claims, among other inclusions. They also impeached Mayorkas earlier this year, but those articles of impeachment have not been taken up in the Senate for a trial.

Fox News' Jasmine Baehr contributed to this report.

Adam Shaw is a politics reporter for Fox News Digital, primarily covering immigration and border security.

He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or on Twitter.

Authored by Adam Shaw via FoxNews May 17th 2024