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Homeland Security Committee Republicans Confirm the Cause of this Unprecedented Border Crisis: Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas

March 16, 2023

Homeland Security Committee Republicans Confirm the Cause of this Unprecedented Border Crisis: Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas

PHARR, TEXAS – This week, House Committee on Homeland Security Chairman Mark E. Green, MD (R-TN) led a Full Committee field hearing in Pharr, Texas, outlining how the crisis at the Southwest border was designed by Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas’ refusal to enforce the laws of our country. In the hearing, the Members heard firsthand testimony from the Chief of U.S. Border Patrol Raul Ortiz, Assistant Director of Countering Transnational Organized Crime Steven Cagen, Director of the Texas Department of Public Safety Colonel Steven McCraw, Sheriff Brad Coe of Kinney County, Texas, and Vice President of the National Border Patrol Council Chris Cabrera.

From the below witness testimony and the conditions shared by law enforcement on the frontlines of this crisis, it is abundantly clear that either Secretary Mayorkas is incompetent or he has been dishonest with the Homeland Security Committee and the American people regarding the security and operational control of our Southwest border.

In his opening question, Chairman Green asked Chief Ortiz:

“Chief Ortiz, does DHS have operational control of the entire border?”

In response, Chief Ortiz broke with Secretary Mayorkas, who claimed last year that they had operational control, by confirming:

“No, sir.”

Chairman Green continued:

“The cartels have figured out that if they flood certain areas, you have to shift resources, and that’s allowing them to have free reign. That to me is the cartels controlling the southern border […] Do the drug cartels have control of sections of the perimeter of the United States?”

Chief Ortiz confirmed:

“I will tell you that in certain areas, the cartels control an awful lot of the southern border south of the United States.”

Rep. Dan Bishop pressed Chief Ortiz on the true cause of our historic border crisis:

“Chief, in Fiscal Year 2020, the policy was to detain and remove. The entire objective was to avoid releasing any illegal immigrant for any reason. In 2021, the new administration gutted all of those policies. Record numbers resulted […] illegals are apprehended by border patrol but are allowed to remain non-detained in the U.S. […] Do you acknowledge as the Chief of the Border Patrol that the driver of the crisis that you’ve described, of this dramatic change in flow — is the policy of this administration to release instead of detain illegal immigrants?”

When pressed again, Chief Ortiz answered:

“When I was a deputy chief and the acting chief in 2014, a lot of people described what was happening here in South Texas as a humanitarian crisis, a border crisis, and I was very candid, and I said that I think we have a bit of a policy crisis. And I still hold true that we have some policies in place where we need to ensure that the men and women out there investigating these criminal cartels are actually allowed to do their job each and every day.”

Rep. Bishop concluded:

“I know what the circumstances are that compel you to come in here and show this level of candor to this Congressional committee, and that’s the men and women that you’re serving […] It is an abomination; it is despicable that people in Washington would set policy that would cause that to those men and women and that would cause the inhumane destruction of lives that you see to migrants who are coming over in these conditions, and that would cause the devastation spreading throughout the United States in consequence of that. I want to thank you for telling Congress what your duty compels you to tell us, which is the truth.”

Vice Chairman Michael Guest questioned Chief Ortiz on Secretary Mayorkas’ claim that the southern border was secure:

“Is the southern border secure?”

Chief Ortiz responded, in part:

“When you look at the Southwest border, I have nine southwest border sectors […] five of those southwest border sectors are experiencing a higher level of flow than we have seen previously, and that creates some unique challenges for us, and it puts a strain on the overall immigration system. Not just for myself, but for our partner agencies, for our sheriff’s departments, police departments. And so, I have to move resources into those five southwest border sectors. That forces me to make some adjustments across the entire 2,000 miles of the Southwest border.”

Vice Chairman Guest concluded:

“I take it then that your testimony is that five of the nine sectors of the Southwest border are not currently secure.”

Rep. August Pfluger asked Chief Ortiz about the lack of consequences for illegally crossing our border:

“You’ve talked about capacity and consequences. Have you shared as the expert […] have you shared your recommendations for how to secure the border with Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.”

Chief Ortiz responded, in part:

“Yes, I have shared my operational experiences.”

Rep. Pfluger then pressed Chief Ortiz on if he had shared his border security recommendations with the DHS Secretary:

“Every agent that I talk to, hundreds of agents that work within CBP, have mentioned that they don’t believe there are consequences. You’ve mentioned the repatriation flights. Is the Secretary listening to your recommendations? Because it certainly appears that’s not happening.”

Rep. Carlos Gimenez questioned Chief Ortiz on the number of illegal immigrants evading apprehension at the southern border:

“Supposedly we have 1.3 million gotaways that we know of. What is your estimate of the people that we don’t know about that got away?”

Chief Ortiz answered, in part:

“My confidence level in that gotaway number continues to increase. Is it 100 percent? No, sir. At 385,000 gotaways this fiscal year, I continue to refine that number.”

When pressed by Rep. Gimenez on the percentage of ‘gotaways’ missed, Chief Ortiz answered:

“In my estimation, based upon the situational awareness that I have, probably between 10 to 20 percent, sir.”

Rep. Morgan Luttrell questioned Chief Ortiz on the policies that are hindering Border Patrol, including the Biden administration’s decision to not enforce commonsense border security policies:

“You said that your agents feel that legislation is not enforced to support them in their duties. Who specifically is telling you not to do that?”

Chief Ortiz responded, in part:

“When I talk about consequences, I’m talking about prosecutions and repatriation flights back to their home country. We have to have those tools in our tool kit.”

When pressed by Rep. Luttrell on which policies specifically need to be reinstated by the Biden administration, Chief Ortiz answered:

“Call it Migrant Protection Protocols, you can call it Remain in Mexico, you can call it a safe third country. All of the tools that the Border Patrol and DHS have at their disposal are going to allow us to do a better job at managing this border.”

Rep. Bishop questioned Colonel McCraw on cartel activity on the southern border:

“Nothing comes across the border unless the cartel permits it. Is that true?”

Colonel McCraw responded with who truly has operational control of the border:

“If you talk to local law enforcement, anybody will tell you it doesn’t matter what market it is, it’s the gangs and the collaboration with each other and the cartels are the biggest problem right now. The Mexican cartels own Mexico. It’s the bottom line. Through intimidation, violence, coercion, and frankly, corruption.”

Rep. Josh Brecheen asked Chief Ortiz about the importance of a border wall:

“Under the prior administration we had a 200 plus [mile] wall that was appropriated, and the President of the United States, President Biden by executive order shut that down. Do you disagree with his decision to shut down the construction?”

Chief Ortiz responded:

“Yes, sir.”

Rep. Laurel Lee questioned Colonel McCraw on the humanitarian crisis at the southern border:

“One argument that has been made by the Biden administration in support of their failed policies is that our approach at the southern border should be humanitarian focused. […] Discuss the humanitarian effects on people that are coming across this border. Those who are exploited, injured, or even killed. Share for us your impression of whether these policies of this administration are in fact having a humanitarian effect.”

Colonel McCraw described the crisis caused by the Biden administration’s reckless Open Border policies:

“It may seem compassionate but anytime you attract millions of people from around the world to turn themselves over to the Mexican cartels […] you basically set them up to be victims of crime. […] People will sell everything they have to be able to try to come to the United States if they believe that they have the opportunity. They won’t if they believe that there are consequences.”