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Ex-acting ICE director: Root cause of border ‘chaos’ is reversal of Trump’s immigration policies

Former Acting Director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Ron Vitiello argued on “Fox & Friends First” on Monday that the “root cause of the chaos” at the southern border is the reversal of former President Trump’s immigration policies. 

Vitiello made the comment one day before Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas will visit Guatemala. 

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said Mayorkas will travel to the Northern Triangle country on Tuesday and Wednesday and will “meet with counterparts in the government of Guatemala regarding shared priorities.”

Mayorkas “will also meet with in-country members of the DHS workforce and key DHS partners,” the statement said.

Amid a border crisis that has seen hundreds of thousands of migrant encounters in recent months, the Biden administration has placed significant emphasis on the “root causes” of the crisis like violence, climate change and poverty in Central America and Northern Triangle countries like Guatemala.

The trip comes nearly a month after Vice President Kamala Harris visited Guatemala as part of a trip to the region, in which she faced criticism for not having visited the border as part of her role in leading diplomatic talks to tackle the “root causes” of the migrant crisis.

While she emphasized those root causes and unveiled a number of measures to tackle them, her visit was complicated by Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei, who partly blamed the Biden administration for encouraging the surge.

HARRIS, WHILE FINALLY VISITING THE BORDER, TOUTS ‘EXTREME PROGRESS’ IN TACKLING MIGRANT SURGE

“Working with Guatemala, working with The Northern Triangle on governance and anti-corruption activities, that’s all well and good, but that’s not going to stop the surge that’s occurring on the border right now,” Vitiello argued on Monday. “We’ve encouraged people to send or bring their children to the border and the root cause of the chaos is the reversal of the policies.”

President Biden scrapped a number of his predecessor’s immigration policies, which included wall construction and having asylum seekers remain in Mexico instead of in the U.S. while they wait for their cases to be heard. The moves have led to a record surge in migrants, including unaccompanied minors, that has strained capacity at immigration facilities. 

A White House spokesperson did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment. 

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Vitiello also argued on Monday that cartels are benefiting from the migrant surge.

“People who come up to the border and the people who are smuggled into the pipeline, they’re controlled by smugglers and cartels,” Vitiello said. “They’re the one that are getting over because of this surge at the border.” 

Fox News’ Adam Shaw contributed to this report.