Cox met with Homeland Security’ Mayorkas to discuss Biden’s immigration plan

The video meeting with Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas was a follow-up to a conversation Gov. Spencer Cox had with President Joe Biden earlier this month, Cox’s office said.

(Kenny Holston | The New York Times) Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas accompanies President Joe Biden on a visit to Brownsville, Texas on Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024. Utah Gov. Spencer Cox said Mayorkas told him that the Biden administration would be better at sharing asylum information with the states.

Amid his reelection bid, Gov. Spencer Cox has held news conferences and taken to social media to attack U.S. immigration policy. On Tuesday, he met with Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas over video to discuss what Cox’s office described as a “lack of information … regarding asylum seekers.”

Cox has become increasingly critical of President Joe Biden’s handling of migrants in recent weeks — first joining other Republican governors in touring a portion of Texas’ border with Mexico, then sending five Utah National Guard troops there because “Texas needs our help.” In a news conference last month, Cox blamed the Biden administration for an “influx … of drugs” in Utah, saying, “You can literally walk through downtown Salt Lake City and see the impacts.”

Those frustrations, a spokesperson for Cox said, were shared directly with Biden when he visited the White House a couple weeks ago in his capacity as chair of the National Governors Association.

“Gov. Cox … expressed frustration to the president over the lack of information being shared by the Department of Homeland Security with the states regarding asylum seekers traveling to each state,” the spokesperson wrote in a statement. “Secretary Mayorkas called to inform him that the administration has agreed to improve information sharing with governors, including better details about asylum seekers.”

The Department of Homeland Security did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

(Pete Marovich | The New York Times) Gov. Spencer Cox of Utah toasts President Joe Biden during a bipartisan gathering of state governors, at the White House in Washington on Saturday, Feb. 24, 2024.

According to Homeland Security data, 441 asylees settled in Utah in fiscal 2022, nearly doubling from 2021′s 222.

Utah’s four House Republicans voted to impeach Mayorkas over his approach to immigration. The Democrat-controlled Senate is debating dismissing those charges.

While Sen. Mike Lee has called for the Senate to proceed with an impeachment trial, Sen. Mitt Romney has repeatedly said he is hesitant to support such charges. “An impeachment trial might be great politics, but it’s not the remedy for bad policy & would set a terrible constitutional precedent,” he posted to X last week.

Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall and Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill have pushed back against Cox’s assertions about immigrants who have made their way to Utah. Mendenhall said in a separate news conference that, “Our data doesn’t show any [crime] increase related to immigration changes at the border,” and Gill called the claims “absolutely ridiculous.”

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