(Ken Silva, Headline USA) The Pentagon is pulling 1,100 active-duty troops from the U.S.-Mexico border it deployed earlier this year as the government prepared for the end of asylum restrictions linked to the pandemic.
President Joe Biden deployed 1,500 active-duty troops for a temporary 90-day military presence at the border in May, when illegal border crossings were swiftly escalating with concerns they’d go even higher after the restrictions ended.
Border crossings have since fallen from about 10,000 per day to 5,000—apparently leaving the Biden administration to believe that the troops are no longer necessary.
However, the number of people crossing the Darien Gap—a key route for migrants headed to the U.S. from South America—during the first seven months of the year is more than all of 2022 combined.
And according to recent data from Customs and Border Patrol, U.S. border encounters have increased from about 400,000 per year in the 2010s to 1.6 million in 2021 and 2.2 million last year—marking new record highs.
These skyrocketing numbers have led House Republicans to criticize the Biden White House and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas for essentially having an open-borders policy.
After Mayorkas falsely claimed to have “operational control” over the border at a congressional hearing last week, numerous Republicans vowed to mount an impeachment campaign against him.
Rep. Mike Johnson, R-La., called Mayorkas the most dishonest public official he’s dealt with in his seven years as a congressman, while Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., accused Mayorkas of “doing the bidding of the cartels” after the secretary couldn’t tell him how many of the 2 million migrants apprehended during the Biden administration have actually been deported.
Rep. Ken Buck, R-Co., meanwhile, told Mayorkas that “my constituents consider you a traitor.”
Rep. Jeff Van Drew, R-N.J., called on Mayorkas to resign. When Mayorkas declined to do so, Van Drew promised that he and the other committee members will ensure that he’s impeached.
“If you will not resign, that leaves us with no other option: You should be impeached,” he said.
Biden’s troop withdrawals do not impact an additional 2,300 National Guard troops under federal orders who remain at the border in similar supporting roles. Those troops will not be extended, but other units will be rotated in to replace them when their deployments end.
Austin has tried to get the Department of Homeland Security to fully assume the border protection role instead of continually relying on military troops. As a condition for Austin’s previous approval of National Guard troops to the border through Oct. 1, Homeland Security had to agree to work with the White House and Congress to develop a plan for longer-term staffing solutions and funding shortfalls.
In a response to questions from the Associated Press, the Pentagon said DHS has outlined a plan to increase personnel and technology investments to meet future surges.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Ken Silva is a staff writer at Headline USA. Follow him at twitter.com/jd_cashless.