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Chairman Green Opening Statement in Full Committee Hearing Examining Secretary Mayorkas’ Border Crisis

February 28, 2023

Chairman Green Opening Statement in Full Committee Hearing Examining Secretary Mayorkas’ Border Crisis

WASHINGTON, DC— House Committee on Homeland Security Chairman Mark E. Green, MD (R-TN) delivered the following opening statement at the Full Committee hearing entitled, “Every State is a Border State: Examining Secretary Mayorkas’ Border Crisis.”
Good morning, and welcome to the Committee on Homeland Security’s first official hearing of the 118th Congress. I want to thank all of our witnesses for being here today for this important hearing, titled “Every State is a Border State: Examining Secretary Mayorkas’ Border Crisis.”

The homeland—OUR homeland—faces an unprecedented crisis along our Southwest border. This crisis threatens the safety of all American families, no matter where they live in the United States. Criminals, weapons, trafficked persons, and illicit narcotics are pouring across our borders in record numbers. Make no mistake: this crisis is a direct result of Secretary Mayorkas’ Open Borders policies, policies they began implementing on DAY ONE.

In 2021 alone, the Administration eliminated or began to shut down 89 successful border security policies, leading to the current chaos. The Mayorkas border crisis is enriching cartels and human traffickers. Violent cartel and gang activity is significantly increasing throughout the United States, and illegal drugs continue to pour over the border in massive quantities.

The picture you see behind me is of a woman raped, and scalped by the drug cartels. Her body was dropped at an elementary school in Texas to make a point.

Today you’re going to hear how the cartels move people into our country for a price. And in many cases, that price is paid with forced criminal activity operating from stash houses inside the United States. When the illegal aliens trafficked by the cartels refuse to comply, this happens to them.

Further, the leading cause of death for Americans aged 18 to 45 years old is now fentanyl. Our country now faces record fatalities from drug overdoses, eclipsing 100,000 deaths, 71,000 from synthetic opioids alone.

As a result, families and communities have been utterly devastated. Our first witness, Rebecca Kissling, lost two sons, Caleb (20-years-old) and Kyler (18-years-old) to fentanyl poisoning in 2020. Sadly, there are thousands of parents, such as Rebecca, who are grieving the loss of their children to this deadly drug.

In my hand are letters written to this Committee from grieving parents across our nation who have lost a child to fentanyl poisoning—no parent should have to go through what Rebecca and these other parents went through. I ask unanimous consent to enter into the record these letters…so ordered.

Last week, I, along with Vice Chairman Guest and Subcommittee Chairman Higgins, led a group of Members to the border, where we saw the crisis firsthand. While touring the El Paso port of entry, we witnessed a car attempting to smuggle illicit narcotics into the homeland. If not for our brave CBP officers, these drugs would have headed straight for American homes.

However, Secretary Mayorkas asserts that he has maintained operational control of the border, he has said as much to the committee under oath. He and the administration, and I am guessing you will hear this disinformation from some of our colleagues across the aisle today, that the fentanyl seizures are up, which they are, and that fentanyl is thus not getting into the country. The implication is somehow that all the fentanyl comes through ports of entry. Well, here is just one video from a rancher on the border. This is camera footage of waves of drug cartel runners wearing camouflage, carpet shoes, and carrying back packs of fentanyl and other drugs. They walk into the country, go to drop sites, load into vehicles and the drugs are shipped all over the country. The cartels are strategic. They neutralize CBP by having mass waves of coyote paid people overwhelm the crossing sites, causing CBP to thin the rural areas to process the people at the crossing sites. Then, they pour across the border. If fentanyl is being stopped at the crossing sites, why has the street price of a hit of fentanyl gone from 95 dollars on the street in TN in JAN 21 to 28 dollars? It’s supply and demand. This data comes from Sheriffs from my home state of Tennessee. Mayorkas was lying when he said he had operational control of the border. And the fentanyl is killing Americans.
Let me be clear: Mayorkas lied and Americans are dying.

Here are images from law enforcement in Tennessee. Seizure after seizure. Mr. Secretary – I thought you had operational control of the border?

I would like to take a moment to recognize the sacrifices and hard work of our courageous, overworked, and understaffed front-line agents and officers who stand guard at our nation’s borders everyday, often in dangerous and unforgiving environments while being constantly villainized by this Administration and the hard left.

I want to thank the Democrats who at least in the private halls of this building will admit this is a crisis. I want to let the American people know that there are some who in quiet whispers say it’s a tragedy. I just wish they would say it out loud, because this is killing Americans. We must reestablish control of our southern border and take it back from the murderous drug cartels.

I would also like to thank our State and Local leaders who have an essential role in defending our nation’s homeland—such as our second witness, Sheriff Mark Lamb of Pinal County, Arizona. Pinal County is not considered a “border county” in the traditional sense—the county sits 55 miles from the U.S.-Mexico border. Yet, the sheriff has had to devote most of his resources not to protecting his community, but to recovering and apprehending illegal border crossers who are being trafficked. This is a direct result of Secretary Mayorkas, who since Day One has opened the border to bad actors, including transnational criminal organizations.

Finally, I would like to welcome the third witness I have invited, Dr. Robert Trenschel, the President and CEO of the Yuma Regional Medical Center. Dr. Trenschel manages the only acute care hospital in the area. As a former healthcare CEO, I know how tough that is in normal times. But, in a 12-month period, from December 2021 through November 2022, Dr. Trenschel estimates that his team has delivered over $26 million in uncompensated care to migrants—an astronomical figure! This is happening all across out country, clearly it’s worse in his border town. But with 4.7 million migrants who need healthcare, everyone pays with higher insurance premiums as this care has to ultimately be paid for.

Under President Biden and Secretary Mayorkas, every state is a border state. In my home state of Tennessee, there were 2,734 fentanyl deaths in 2021. In North Carolina, there were 4,041 overdose deaths, 77 percent of which were related to fentanyl. And in New York state, there were 4,946 opioid deaths—again, much of which is attributed to fentanyl. All of these states are not on the southwest border—but they are severely impacted by the Biden border crisis. And all these states have at least one representative who sits on this Committee.

This hearing should be a wake-up call for Committee Members to end the madness and work together to secure our country. Our colleagues across the aisle must acknowledge the humanitarian tragedy at our borders and the increasing threat that the Mayorkas border crisis places on every congressional district in this nation. We are the Committee on Homeland Security. We must secure the homeland now.
With that, I yield back and recognize Ranking Member Thompson for his opening remarks.