(NewsNation) — Political posturing at the border continued Tuesday as the Biden administration gave reporters rare access to witness migrants being expelled from the country in an effort to show a stronger stance on immigration, countering Republican criticism.
Migrant encounters at the U.S.-Mexico border hit another all-time high in April, marking yet another month in 2022 where encounters between migrants and border patrol agents hit record levels. The Biden administration is now trying to showcase toughness at the border.
On Tuesday, the federal government allowed reporters to film shackled migrants being put on a plane in Texas before being sent to Guatemala, in an effort to demonstrate a tougher message on illegal immigration.
There were 234,000 migrant encounters at the border in April, surpassing March’s record-setting total of 221,303, the highest total in 22 years.
Half of the migrants encountered in April were released into the United States, 113,000 were removed or expelled from the country.
U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas visited the border on Tuesday, and unveiled a harsher message on consequences for people crossing the border illegally as the Biden administration tries to counter Republican criticism over the border.
“The laws of the border will be enforced,” Mayorkas said. “If one does not qualify for relief, one will be removed.”
Border Patrol officials told Mayorkas they needed more technology and manpower to properly deal with the influx of migrants reaching the border.
Mayorkas’ visit also comes as a political and legal battle continues to be waged over the fate of COVID-era border policy Title 42, which allows the United States to expel migrants quickly without allowing them to first seek asylum.
Mayorkas and other U.S. officials are now touting a tougher message on immigration in order to justify ending Title 42.
The Biden administration is proposing to end Title 42 on May 23, however a coalition of 19 states sued to keep Title 42 alive, arguing the administration did not give proper notice of its intent to end the policy.
A Louisiana judge ordered the phaseout of Title 42 must be stopped in a federal court last month.
Title 42 was used to expel 96, 908 migrants in April.
Texas Democrat Rep. Henry Cuellar, who is vice chairman of the House Homeland Security Appropriations Committee, applauded the move by Biden’s administration to give reporters access to a deportation in an interview with Border Report.
“This is a very good move by the administration because you got to show the hundreds of thousands of people who are being returned, the ones that legally are not supposed to be here and you have to show that to help deter because otherwise the only images we see is of people coming in and we don’t see people going out even though they are departing hundreds of thousands of people,” he told Border Report.
A handful of Republicans on the midterm campaign trail continue to allege that Democrats are allowing illegal immigration for a host of reasons including trying to gain new voters and attempting to change the demographics of the country.
Ohio Senate Republican nominee J.D. Vance told Fox News of a coming immigrant “invasion” and contended if Democrats lost the 2022 midterms they “have decided that they can’t win reelection in 2022 unless they bring a large number of new voters to replace the voters that are already here.”
Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt, also a Senate midterm hopeful, argued Democrats were “fundamentally trying to change this country through illegal immigration.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.