President Biden hosts the Summit of the Americas with top priority of stemming illegal immigration

Published: Jun. 7, 2022 at 2:25 PM EDT

WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - The US is hosting the Summit of the Americas, back after a four year hiatus. The summit brings together leaders from the Western Hemisphere to discuss issues facing the region. Gray White House Correspondent Jon Decker met with Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas before he left for the event.

Decker asked Sec. Mayorkas about President Biden’s top priority of the summit, addressing illegal immigration. Said Mayorkas, “The promise of America is something that shines throughout the world. But most people don’t want to leave their homes.” He added, “They feel they must do so because of economic despair, because of corruption, because of violence... That is what we’re trying to address, together, with the countries throughout the region.”

Sec. Mayorkas has been working directly with Panama and Costa Rica over the last two months to secure cooperation in managing borders and providing humanitarian relief.

Meanwhile in the United States a legal battle is raging over Title 42. Enacted at the urging of the Center for Disease Control at the beginning of the pandemic, Title 42 allowed federal workers to turn back migrants and asylum seekers to prevent the spread of COVID. President Biden now wishes to roll it back. Opponents are concerned this would clog US borders with increased immigrants.

Mayorkas answered the concerns with a plan to have asylum officers hear cases instead of immigration judges. He said, “There are about 1.6 million, 1.7 million cases ending in immigration court. It takes about six to eight years between the time of an asylum claim and the time an immigration judge actually is able to make a final ruling. This would allow immigration officers, people in the Department of Homeland Security to make those judgments, and we could make them in less than a year. It’s really a dramatic change, and one that frankly will improve the system and its efficiency.”

Biden is expected to release a signed declaration of immigration with the support of hemisphere leaders by the end of the summit, which will wrap June 10th.

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