Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas visited the San Ysidro Port of Entry on Tuesday to discuss the Biden Administration's hopes to change immigration policies.
Secretary Mayorkas said the busiest land port of entry in the country is back to pre-pandemic levels after it recently re-opened to nonessential travel. Despite concerns over the fast-spreading omicron variant, Mayorkas doesn’t expect that to change.
"The port of entry is open to trade and travel," he said. "The engine of prosperity, as you can see, is quite busy and we have no plans to close it at this time."
Mayorkas spent most of his time congratulating and giving credit to the border agents that work the crossing. He addressed the media from behind secured gates at the Pedestrian East processing building while a small group outside protested Title 42 expulsion -- the policy prohibits Mexican citizens seeking asylum from entering the U.S. because of the pandemic.
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"When we have the pandemic behind us, when the public health imperative no longer requires the exercise of that authority, we will not use that authority to expel individuals," he said.
Former president Donald Trump implemented the MPP program, also known as the “Remain in Mexico” policy, which applies to citizens seeking asylum from Western Hemisphere countries except for Mexico.
Mayorkas said the current administration disagrees with the policy and isn’t done fighting to abolish it.
"We are required to adhere to the courts order under the rule of law and we are reimplementing MPP as we are required to do so until a court determines otherwise, Mayorkas said.
Meanwhile, U.S. immigration policies are not the only thing on the minds of those passing through the San Ysidro POE.
Ruben Yeomans works at the outlet store making minimum wage but lives in Tijuana. He's frustrated with his commute to work.
"Speeding up the lines, getting people across a lot and getting to my job a lot quicker," Yeomans said, listing the changes he hopes to see at the crossing.
Unfortunately for Yeomans, the process could get slower. Non-essential travelers are required to carry proof of vaccination, and starting in January, according to Mayorkas, even the essential travelers will have to do the same.
San Ysidro was one of the Mayorkas' stops on his West Coast swing. He spent Monday discussing cyber security in San Francisco and is traveling to Yuma, Arizona, after his stay in San Diego.