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Meijer Opening Statement in Oversight Hearing

February 17, 2022

Meijer Opening Statement in Oversight Hearing

WASHINGTON, DC – Rep. Peter Meijer (R-MI), Ranking Member of the Oversight, Management & Accountability Subcommittee, delivered the following opening statement in a subcommittee hearing entitled, “Call to Action: Private Sector Investment in the Northern Triangle and its Impact on Homeland Security.”

Ranking Member Meijer’s Opening Statement (remarks as prepared)

Thank you, Chairman Correa, for holding this important hearing today, and thank you to our witnesses for joining us to share their unique perspective on an extremely complicated issue.

We are convened today for the fourth hearing this subcommittee has held on the topic of illegal immigration at our southern border. We have heard from stakeholders on a variety of migrant push factors and today we will hear from private sector witnesses on their economic investment initiatives in the Northern Triangle.

Regrettably, instead of putting effort towards securing the border, the Biden Administration chooses to focus entirely on the “root causes” of illegal immigration from Central America. As part of this effort, Vice President Harris has announced a Call to Action for businesses and social enterprises to commit to investments in these countries. This initiative aims to provide a more stable economic environment for development in the region and to stem its emigration problems. I agree that a more economically and politically stable environment would help curb migration from these countries, and I would like to commend the private sector entities that have pledged to assist in this effort, as well as those that have been working in the Northern Triangle for years prior to this formalized announcement.

While important, private sector investment only yields results in the long-term. There are immediate steps this administration can take to stop the ongoing crisis, including addressing the significant pull factors for illegal immigration, as well as the gaping security vulnerabilities along the southern border.

Since President Biden entered office a little over a year ago, more than 2 million migrants have been encountered at the southwest border. That is more people than those residing in all but the 4 most populous cities in the United States.

On day one, this administration:

  • Halted the construction of the border wall,
  • Implemented catch and release policies that allowed migrants to flow into American communities in the midst of a deadly pandemic,
  • Pulled back on fully utilizing Title 42 public health authorities,
  • Undermined the Remain in Mexico Policy,
  • Hamstrung our border and immigration agents, and
  • Facilitated the travel of illegal immigrants all across the United States, even allowing arrest warrants to serve as valid forms of identification.

In December 2021 alone, a record breaking 178,000 migrants were encountered at the southwest border. This year is on track to be just as disastrous as 2021 for border security, if not worse. Immediate action must be taken to prevent this outcome.

Earlier this week, I introduced a Resolution of Inquiry on the Biden Administration’s mishandling of the border crisis. The American people deserve complete transparency into the decisions made that have encouraged illegal border crossings, aided criminal activity, increased the flow of dangerous drugs like fentanyl into the United States, and endangered the lives of migrants and children making a perilous journey to the southwest border.

The porous southern border has also increased our homeland’s vulnerability to terrorist threats. We know that CBP has encountered known and suspected terrorists at the southern border within the past year. Just last week, I joined my Republican colleagues from Michigan in demanding answers from DHS regarding a specific case of an individual who reportedly was encountered crossing the border and flagged on the FBI’s terrorist watchlist, only to be later released into Michigan despite opposition to release from both FBI and ICE agents involved in the case.

In November of 2021, the U.S. Border Patrol’s Del Rio Sector alone apprehended individuals from over 60 different countries after they illegally crossed our border. In December, the migrants coming from the Northern Triangle were outnumbered by those coming from more distant countries. This trend shows the Biden Administration’s flawed approach to the overall problem. With more migrants coming to the southern border from further away, it is clear that pull factors are a major driver of this crisis, and just addressing the root causes in the Northern Triangle is not an adequate solution.

I, along with my 29 Republican colleagues who cosponsored this resolution, urge the Majority to join us in demanding transparency from this administration. There is no more hiding from this crisis.

Despite my frustrations with the Administration’s handling of the border crisis, I am sincerely interested in hearing from our witnesses today. I would like to learn more about their investment plans for the Northern Triangle, and what their most significant concerns and challenges are regarding the success of these plans. Congress must hear about these private sector initiatives to inform our policymaking and ensure the best possible outcome for not only the people living in the Northern Triangle, but Americans and our national interests as well.

I once again emphasize that these outcomes will not materialize for many years, even with the government and private sector acting in lockstep. Responsible governance requires us to take a more comprehensive approach, to address push and pull factors simultaneously, rather than one after the other. We can and should invest in longer-term, regional solutions but we must also act now to solve the crisis at our border to ensure the safety and security of all Americans.

Thank you again, Mr. Chairman, and I yield back.