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DHS Secretary Tells Domestic Textile Group de Minimis Based on 'False Premise'

DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas told an audience of domestic textile producers that de minimis is based on a "false premise" that low value means low risk, and said that is not the case.

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Speaking at the National Council of Textile Organizations' annual meeting April 9, Mayorkas said DHS benefits "immensely" from engagement with the trade group on issues including de minimis.

He said that, prior to meeting with the NCTO, he was not aware of the severity of the impact of unlawful activity on the textile industry. DHS takes its responsibility to enforce the law very seriously and is incredibly proud of the law that it doesn't just hold perpetrators accountable, it also ensures a fair and competitive marketplace, Mayorkas said.

NCTO has been heavily lobbying the executive branch (see 2401310047) and Congress (see 2310200042), and the House Select Committee on China asked the administration to consider one of NCTO's requests, which is to exclude textiles from de minimis eligibility (see 2401220005).

The DHS textile enforcement plan doesn't go that far with regard to de minimis, but Sidley Austin's Ted Murphy wrote in a client note that the administration is shaping "trade enforcement priorities based on input from Congress and outside interests." He noted the House Select Committee on China's letter -- which also touched on Uyghur inputs entering garment supply chains in Central America or Mexico, and the need to expand the UFLPA entity list -- and a letter from 40 Democrats focusing on apparel entering through de minimis (see 2402290036).

"The list of actions DHS has said it will be taking is pretty similar to the actions members of Congress called for in these letters," he wrote.

Apparel importers that are either claiming benefits through a trade agreement or importers of apparel that has Chinese content, even if made in other countries, should expect more scrutiny. (The majority of apparel that has been detained under UFLPA was made outside China.)

"We have also had clients receive from CBP detailed requests for information on the companies’ use of Section 321 'for informational purposes' in the past week. These efforts are likely to intensify in the short-to-medium term," Murphy wrote.