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Appropriators Grill Mayorkas, Becerra on Border Crisis

March 30, 2023

The Biden Administration's failed border security policies have undoubtedly created a spiraling security and humanitarian crisis at our southwest border, with illegal crossings continuing to skyrocket.

Yesterday, Secretary of Homeland Security (DHS) Alejandro Mayorkas testified before the Committee, pushing a false narrative on the state of our border.

Photo of Secretary of Homeland Security (DHS) Alejandro Mayorkas

Secretary Mayorkas has repeatedly said that the border is secure, but at a recent field hearing by the Homeland Security Committee, that characterization was disputed by Raul Ortiz, Chief of the Border Patrol, who said that five of the nine southwest border sectors were not secure.

The border is NOT secure, as the Secretary claims. Here are the facts, by numbers ⬇️

  • 2.7 million migrants were encountered by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in FY22.
  • Over 600,000 migrants successfully evaded into the interior of the country in FY22.
  • 1 million migrants have been encountered so far in FY23.
  • Nearly 6,000 migrants are encountered a day, with some estimating that number could nearly triple to 15,000 once Title 42 is dropped.

When Republicans demanded "yes or no" responses during the hearing with Secretary Mayorkas, the secretary dipped and dodged many of the questions, raising even more concerns about transparency within the administration's budget request for the department.

"The budget is full of gimmicks that mask the true cost of protecting the homeland and make our job as appropriators that much more difficult," Subcommittee Chairman David Joyce stated during his opening remarks.

Photo of Subcommittee Chairman David Joyce (OH)

The Secretary did give Congressman Michael Guest a straightforward answer to "Yes or no, do you maintain today, that in light of the statements made by [Border Patrol] Chief Ortiz, that the border is secure?"

Even after 2.7 million migrant encounters last year, Secretary Mayorkas doubled down, saying "Congressman, I stand by my prior assessment."

Committee Chairwoman Kay Granger repeatedly raised concerns with the "$2.4 billion remaining for the funds to complete the wall" that this administration has refused to spend as Congress intended – mostly from the irresponsible decision to halt border construction. Granger highlighted that "a little more than $200 million of that will expire in the next few months. Are we just going to let that happen?"

Photo of Committee Chairwoman Kay Granger (TX)

Congressman Michael Cloud forced the Secretary to admit that the administration is paying for border wall storage, rather than construction.

"I'm sure this is basic constitutional, but as the Article 1 Branch, our job is to make the law. Your job is to execute the law. Is that correct?... And yet you've canceled contracts for construction of the border wall. Is that true?"

After pressing, "Are we paying for the border wall to be stored?" Secretary Mayorkas answered, "We are indeed."

Congressman Dan Newhouse emphasized the importance of securing our border to stop the deadly flow of fentanyl that is "destroying our communities throughout the country."

Newhouse continued, "If fentanyl was COVID, I dare say the administration would've closed down the country until we had a handle on it. It seems to me that we should be putting all of our efforts into this and pulling out all the stops to stop the scourge in our country."

Congresswoman Ashley Hinson claimed the Secretary's testimony "feels a little bit like déjà vu" and expressed frustration with its apparent discrepancy with Border Patrol Chief Ortiz and agents on the ground: "I see it as a lack of meaningful work to address the retention challenges. The [requests] don't match what CBP is actually asking for, and throwing out increased numbers looks nice, but it does not actually address the reality of the situation at our southern border."

Photo of Congresswoman Ashley Hinson (IA)

Hinson continued to press on the Secretary, "If you were hearing about the morale within the department at CBP when the Chief of the Border Patrol is telling us that the border is not secure, and that men and women at the border feel disrespected by the policies of this administration. It's very clear to me, sir, that there's a lot more work to be done. And that you need to listen better to the men and women who are putting their lives on the line every single day."

Congressman Andy Harris added, "It's strange the administration wants to hire 350 Border Patrol agents and 87,000 armed IRS agents. Perhaps you should go over to the IRS and see if they'll share some of that wealth with you or support our efforts."

Even Subcommittee Democrat Ed Case sees through the border gimmicks by "agreeing with all of my colleagues on the panel that I believe the situation at the border is a very critical issue. And I think anybody that walks away from that basic statement is not facing the realities."

In addition, Committee Republicans pressed Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra about unaccompanied alien children (UAC) during a hearing on the department's budget.

During questioning, Subcommittee Chairman Robert Aderholt discussed reports that unaccompanied alien children are ending up in the hands of human traffickers and are being forced to work long hours in dangerous jobs.

"In previous statements, you have compared your agency's work in releasing minors into the US to an ‘assembly line' and encouraged your staff to expedite the release of children. In light of these child labor violations, what changes will you be making to ensure children are placed with suitable sponsors?"

Photo of Subcommittee Chairman Robert Aderholt (AL)

As part of his response, Secretary Becerra admitted that once UACs are released to a sponsor, there is NO obligation that the child or sponsor have any further contact with the agency.

This means these children can simply disappear.

Photo of Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra

Congressman Jake Ellzey also inquired about UACs, asking why HHS removed previous requirements on background checks for potential sponsors.

"We know human beings are being trafficked for the sex trade throughout the southern border… The number of unaccompanied alien children encountered at the border has increased the last two years… Was there a rationale for removing biographic and biometric data [for all adult members of a sponsor's household]?"

Jumping back to the Homeland Security hearing with Secretary Mayorkas, Congressman John Rutherford also discussed migrant vetting.

"We know that DHS and HHS have facilitated the movement of migrants into the interior of the country without notifying local government agencies. We're not vetting people properly… This administration is not even confirming identities of the people we're turning children over to. We've got cases where many children are going to the same sponsors. We're participating in child trafficking. And without the coordination of local governments officials, particularly law enforcement.

MAIN POINT: this administration's policies have caused an out-of-control crisis, and it will only get worse unless this administration reverses course.