Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas told border patrol agents "we’re going to lose" if "borders are the first line of defense" against the surge of migrants, Fox News reported Friday.
"A couple of days ago I was down in Mexico, and I said look, you know, if, if our borders are the first line of defense, we're going to lose and this is unsustainable," Mayorkas said Thursday, according to audio obtained by Fox News.
"We can't continue like this, our people in the field can’t continue and our system isn't built for it."
Mayorkas told the agents that the federal government's system was not designed to handle such a crisis as has been seen since President Joe Biden took office, and he was "very well" aware the region has come close to "breaking."
"It's our responsibility to make sure that that never happens again," he said.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection carried out 212,672 migrant apprehensions in July, a 21-year high, according to data released Thursday.
More than 110,000 single adult migrants were taken into custody, the majority of whom were expelled to Mexico under Title 42, a public health authority first invoked under the Trump administration.
CBS News reported that nearly 88% of the more than 83,000 migrant parents and children taken into custody as families in July were processed under U.S. immigration law and allowed to seek asylum.
Border officials also encountered an all-time high 18,962 unaccompanied children, whom the Biden administration has shielded from Title 42.
"It is a big number," Raul Ortiz, the incoming chief of U.S. Border Patrol, told CBS News. "I have a huge flow of migrants coming across here in south Texas. I have the same thing two or three hundred miles up the river in Del Rio, Texas. And then I have the same thing occurring in Yuma, Arizona. It really has forced us to rethink how we do business."
Mayorkas visited the Texas border Thursday and admitted the migrant crisis was "one of the toughest challenges we face."
"The extent of the challenge should not be understated, but nor should our ability to meet it," he said, Fox News reported.
The Biden administration has been slammed for the way it has handled the crisis, especially amid the rise in COVID cases largely due to the Delta variant.
Critics have assailed Vice President Kamala Harris for her failure in tackling the issue, which she was assigned to take over in March.
Border agents said that some of their peers have become frustrated by the administration's approach to the crisis.
"For those of us who have been around here long enough … we don't need to reinvent the wheel," one agent told Mayorkas. "We've had this happen before. We know exactly how to shut it down. We need to make illegal entry illegal."
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