Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas on Sunday warned against migrants attempting to illegally cross the U.S.-Mexico border after dozens died inside a tractor-trailer in San Antonio, Texas last week.
"These migrants received false information from smugglers," Mayorkas said on CBS's "Face the Nation."
"They put their lives, their life savings, in the hands of these exploitative organizations, these criminal organizations that do not care for their lives and only seek to make a profit," he added, noting that smuggling organizations have become "very sophisticated" in recent years.
Fifty-three migrants have died out of the 64 people found inside the vehicle on Monday, and the Justice Department last week charged four individuals in connection with the incident.
More migrants died or went missing in 2021 at the U.S.-Mexico border than any year since at least 2014, according to The Migrant Project, an initiative run by the United Nations. The group has documented 297 dead or missing migrants at the border so far in 2022.
"We continue to warn people not to take the dangerous journey," Mayorkas said on Sunday. "We saw so tragically in San Antonio, Texas, one of the possible tragic results of that dangerous journey, and so many people don't even make it that far in the hands of exploitative smugglers."
Mayorkas also said he did not expect the number of migrants to continue to surge.
"No, I'm not predicting that at all," he told host Margaret Brennan.
The Supreme Court on Thursday sided with the Biden administration in its plan to end the "Remain in Mexico" immigration policy, ruling 5-4 that the administration did not violate federal immigration law in seeking to rescind the Trump-era rule. The policy, which came under fire from immigration advocates, requires U.S. asylum-seekers at the southern border to wait in Mexico while their applications are processed.
"Their proceedings will continue in immigration court, where they will pursue their claims for asylum," Mayorkas said on Sunday. "And if those claims are unsuccessful, they will be swiftly removed from the United States."
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