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“Abject Failure at The Border”: Republicans Hold Secretary Mayorkas Accountable

April 19, 2023

“Abject Failure at The Border”: Republicans Hold Secretary Mayorkas Accountable

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the House Committee on Homeland Security, led by Chairman Mark E. Green, MD (R-TN), held Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas accountable on behalf of the American people for both a historic crisis at our borders and a woefully inadequate Fiscal Year 2024 budget proposal for the Department.

In this budget request, the Biden administration is saying the quiet part out loud by requesting funding for ‘border management’ instead of ‘border security,’ signaling it has no intention of actually securing our borders. Today, this Committee received confirmation that President Biden and Secretary Mayorkas want a blank check from Congress to continue funding their self-made national security crisis at our borders at the expense of the American people’s safety and taxpayer dollars. This border crisis sits squarely on Secretary Mayorkas’ shoulders, as he has failed to fulfill his duties as Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.

WATCH: Chairman Green Grills Secretary Mayorkas

WATCH: Secretary Mayorkas Uses His Own Definition of Operational Control

In his opening line of questioning, Chairman Green detailed how Secretary Mayorkas has either misled Congress or illustrated his incompetence:

“[Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX)] asked you under oath…If you had operational control according to that definition, and you said, ‘I do.’ That is a false statement because you admitted in the Senate that no one has ever achieved that…not only have you lied under oath, you just admitted your own incompetence. It’s really quite unacceptable. You knew very well the definition wasn’t being fulfilled.”

Following Chairman Green’s remarks and in response to Ranking Member Bennie Thompson (D-MS), Secretary Mayorkas attempted to explain away his possible lack of honesty regarding the operational control of the Southwest border by choosing a more favorable definition:

“I use a lens of reasonableness in defining operational control. Are we maximizing the resources we have to deliver the most affective results? And under that definition, we are doing so very much to gain operational control.”

Vice Chairman Michael Guest (R-MS) asked Secretary Mayorkas if he agreed with his own Border Patrol Chief, Raul Ortiz, who said in a field hearing with the Committee last month that five of the nine sectors of the Southwest border are not secure.

“Is it your testimony that all nine of the Southwest sectors from the Rio Grande valley to San Diego, under whatever definition you use, that you believe that all nine sectors are secure?”

When pressed numerous times, Secretary Mayorkas eventually doubled down on the administration’s out-of-touch talking points:

“It is my testimony that the border is secure.”

WATCH: Secretary Mayorkas’ Refusal to Enforce Our Nation’s Laws Has Destroyed Border Patrol Morale

Subcommittee on Border Security and Enforcement Chairman Clay Higgins (R-LA) highlighted how the Biden administration’s refusal to enforce our laws has destroyed the morale of our Border Patrol agents on the frontlines of this crisis:

“History will witness your era of service as a transitional time in our country…We can give you money to hire a thousand new border agents—nobody wants to work for you. We can’t keep up with the whistle blowers that are coming to testify against your command.”

Subcommittee on Oversight, Investigations, and Accountability Chairman Dan Bishop (R-NC) highlighted the tragic consequences of the Biden administration’s failure to enforce the laws of our nation:

“You’re asking for a 342 percent increase in the funding for combating child exploitation. Do you want to know why that is? Let me tell you, because you won’t tell me candidly. The reason is your policies have led to 345,000 unaccompanied children entering this country, which now the New York Times has revealed in multiple articles what that has led to in the quality of their lives…Everybody of any reasonable sensibility looks at what you have been saying…and recognizes it blinks at reality—and you know it.”

Subcommittee on Counterterrorism, Law Enforcement, and Intelligence Chairman August Pfluger (R-TX) demanded an apology from Sec. Mayorkas on behalf of the Tambunga family, who lost two family members in a deadly crash with a speeding human trafficker evading apprehension in the Biden border crisis:

“They came here because they want closure. They deserve answers. Will you turn around and offer your condolences and an apology for your administration that led to the death of their loved ones…It is a failure of the policies that have allowed hundreds of thousands of families to go through this grief.”

Subcommittee on Transportation and Maritime Security Chairman Carlos Gimenez (R-FL) laid out the facts on why the Biden administration is responsible for this historic crisis:

“My colleagues on the other side say that you inherited a mess at the border…In March of 2019, President Trump issued the MPP, basically the Remain in Mexico policy, and in that year there were 977,000 encounters. You can see that after he issued that executive order…it started to take effect where you have fewer and fewer encounters at the border…in Fiscal Year 2020, you had about 458,000—that’s a 50 percent drop in the number of encounters. Then we get the Biden administration, and your time. Right after the Biden administration rescinded a lot of these orders and issued their new executive orders, we went from encounters in January of 78,000 and jumped to 101,000 and 173,000, 178 [000]…The year after, it got even worse. So now we had 2.3 million encounters in Fiscal Year 2022. In light of this, have you advised the president to change his policies at all?”

Secretary Mayorkas attempted to deflect:

“I don’t think it’s appropriate for me to speak of the deliberative process.”

Rep. Gimenez concluded:

“These numbers reflect abject failure at the border. And so somebody has to take responsibility for it.”

Subcommittee on Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Protection Chairman Andrew Garbarino (R-NY) highlighted the challenges facing the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), our nation’s risk advisor, under this administration:

“The Fiscal Year 2024 CISA budget requests relatively few additional full-time employees, despite a persistent workforce shortage. In addition, seven years after Congress gave DHS authority, it finally launched the Cyber talent management system in November 2021, but public reporting indicates that hiring has been slow…both factors are very concerning…Is CISA’s current staffing levels consistent to meet all of its obligations?” 

Secretary Mayorkas admitted to the agency’s issue:

“We do have vacancies.”

Rep. Garbarino then asked about the delayed Congressionally-requested 360 review of the cyber component:

“DHS has still not submitted CISA’s four structure assessment, which is over a year late. That assessment is crucial to understand CISA’s workforce and resource needs. What is the delay?”

Secretary Mayorkas answered, in part:

“Congressman, we will look into that.”

Rep. Garbarino concluded, highlighting the importance of Congressional oversight in properly assessing DHS’s budget proposal:

“What concerns me is the delay in that report plus the delay…[in] over eight reports that Congress is due from DHS and CISA… We are here talking about the budget and budget requests. These reports are how we do our oversight….we want to make sure the money is being spent properly, but we can’t do that if these reports come to us late.”

Rep. Josh Brecheen (R-OK) laid out how much taxpayer money is being wasted by the Biden administration’s refusal to finish building the Southwest border wall and asked Secretary Mayorkas whether he agreed with his Border Patrol Chief, who said he disagreed with the decision:

“President Biden said in his first hundred days, ‘not another foot.’…Because of this, the Department of Defense then had to spend $2 billion to terminate the contracts for something that Congress needed to happen…that’s not a good expenditure of taxpayer money…Now we continue to spend $130,000 every day to store and maintain those sections of wall rusting and wasting on the ground…You’re proposing to spend $4.7 billion for a Southwest border contingency fund that’s set up to deal with the surge…instead of building physical barriers…Do you agree with [Chief Ortiz], who said before this Committee that he disagreed with Biden’s decision to shut down construction of that 250-mile border wall that Congress appropriated funds for?”

Secretary Mayorkas answered:

“I stand by the decision of this administration to stop construction of the wall.”

Rep. Laurel Lee (R-FL) detailed how the Biden administration’s open-border policies are incentivizing the human trafficking of migrant children, who are exploited by dangerous human smugglers:

“To stop the exploitation and trafficking of children, we need the federal government to partner with us and eliminate policies that are making children more vulnerable…A report shows that the number of unaccompanied minors (UACs) at the Southern border increased from 27,000 to 127,000 between Fiscal Years 2015 and 2022…Roughly 40 percent of those initially categorized as UACs were aged 17 or above, and included reference to the case of a 24 year old murderer who made his way through the UAC system in order to ultimately murder his Florida sponsor. The killer’s mother reported that he had entered the U.S. fraudulently because, ‘right there at the shelter they helped me.’ This was a reference to financial aid and other assistance given by charitable organizations on both sides of the border.”

Rep. Morgan Luttrell (R-TX) highlighted how American taxpayers are funding Secretary Mayorkas’ legal defense in hearings:

“If we are going to spend $3 million on a private law firm to help you prep for hearings…as a fiscally conservative man, if we want to fund a department, let’s fund it. Let’s not go spending things that we don’t need to spend taxpayer dollars on.”