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NEWSLETTER: What We’ve Learned From Law Enforcement This Year

May 19, 2023

NEWSLETTER: What We’ve Learned From Law Enforcement This Year

WASHINGTON, D.C. — As the end of National Police Week nears, the House Committee on Homeland Security gives our sincerest gratitude to the men and women of law enforcement who have generously shared their time, expertise, and firsthand experiences with the Committee Members and staff. In addition to the below activity, Homeland Security Republicans are grateful to have received numerous briefings and staff site visits with law enforcement personnel. Our homeland is safer because of their courage and dedication to public service.

From briefings and testimony, this Committee was able to help craft and pass through the House of Representatives the Secure the Border Act of 2023, which is targeted legislation that contains provisions to address the crisis between ports of entry at our Southwest border and provide resources to law enforcement on the frontlines.

View highlights of the Committee’s work with law enforcement below.

February 27, 2023: Homeland Security Committee Holds Border Bootcamp, Leaves With Eye-Opening Takeaways From Law Enforcement

“These Border Patrol agents are doing everything that they can.”- Rep. Anthony D’Esposito (R-NY)

In February, House Committee on Homeland Security Chairman Mark E. Green, MD (R-TN) led Committee members to the Southwest border in El Paso, Texas, where they witnessed firsthand the growing border crisis and heard directly from law enforcement on the ground.From interdicting drug smuggling and human trafficking to experiencing attempts by criminal cartels to overwhelm law enforcement at ports of entry, Border Patrol agents on the ground shared the ins and outs of the crucial work they do day and night to protect our communities.

As the Members were reminded during the visit, our nation’s Border Patrol agents remain wedged in the middle of this impossible situation as they are forced to assume roles and take on duties that should not be their responsibility and are certainly not what they were trained as law enforcement officers to do. Behind every encounter number, there is a heartbeat not only of a migrant but also of a Border Patrol agent.

“We have a 377% increase in the last two years for traffic stops involving human smuggling and trafficking.” – Sheriff Mark Lamb

Following the Border Bootcamp, Chairman Green led a Full Committee hearing to hear from law enforcement and everyday Americans affected by the widespread and debilitating impact of President Biden’s border crisis.

In the hearing, Sheriff Mark Lamb of Pinal County, Arizona, an area 52 miles from the border, shared his firsthand experiences with human and drug trafficking from cartels and told the Committee how aliens work to avoid apprehension at our Southwest border, leading to record numbers of ‘gotaways.’ He described the life-saving humanitarian work that law enforcement does to aid migrants facing deadly conditions and violent criminal cartels, and he touched on the importance of Operation Stonegarden.

“The administration’s policies are tying the hands of the actual CBP, Border Patrol, FBI, DEA—they’re tying their hands. ” – Texas Sheriff

In March, Chairman Green led a listening session with Members in Pharr, Texas, featuring local ranchers, sheriffs, state law enforcement officials, a Task Force Commander from the local High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas program, and the families of U.S. Border Patrol agents.According to the wife of a longtime U.S. Border Patrol agent, the Biden and Mayorkas Border Crisis is taking a toll on their family and other families in the community—and it’s all because of their policies. A Southwest Texas Sheriff shared the toll this crisis takes on his officers, who are pursuing illegal migrants that have evaded apprehension between Ports of Entry.  According to a West Texas Sheriff almost 100 miles from the border, weapons and illicit drugs smuggled by cartels are reaching across the entire state—and farther.

The Commander of the local High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas program, who is focused on combating drug smuggling and trafficking, shared that South Texas is facing increased overdoses due to the drugs smuggled across our southwest border, including cocaine, amphetamines, and large amounts of fentanyl-laced pills. A South Texas Sheriff also detailed this epidemic and shared that he has opened his own morgue due to the rise in overdose deaths from drugs smuggled between ports of entry. According to another South Texas Sheriff, there is a growing number of deceased migrants found on Americans’ properties amid cartel brutality.

March 16, 2023: Homeland Security Committee Republicans Confirm the Cause of this Unprecedented Border Crisis

“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.” – Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz

Following the roundtable, Chairman Green led a Full Committee field hearing in Pharr, Texas, in which Members heard firsthand testimony from the Chief of U.S. Border Patrol Raul Ortiz, 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.

Members heard from Chief Ortiz that five of our nine Southwest border sectors are not secure, that Border Patrol agents are also facing a “policy crisis” due to a lack of enforcement policy, and there is far more support and resources needed to achieve operational control. Colonel McCraw even testified that criminal cartels control much of our Southwest border—not this administration—and this has created a humanitarian crisis. From the witness testimony provided, it is abundantly clear that law enforcement on the frontlines of this crisis needs more support to accomplish their mission, from the Southwest border to our Northern and maritime borders.

March 28, 2023: Homeland Security Republicans Hear From National Border Patrol Council Leadership, and More on a Growing Crisis

“In little over 25 years, I’ve never seen the morale lower in the Border Patrol than what it is today…We know that we do not have the support of this administration to actually protect the American people.” – Brandon Judd, National Border Patrol Council President

Later that month, Members on the Oversight, Investigations, and Accountability Subcommittee, led by Chairman Dan Bishop (R-NC), held a hearing to examine the worsening crisis at our Northern border, in which they heard testimony from President of the National Border Patrol Council Brandon Judd, who has 25 years of experience as a Border Patrol agent, as well as other Members.

As one sector of our Northern border experiences an over 700 percent rise in illegal alien encounters compared to last fiscal year, his testimony detailed the devastating toll the diversion of necessary resources to the Southwest border crisis has had on the security of the U.S.-Canada border, the surrounding communities, and Northern Border Patrol agents. These agents and communities continue to pay the cost of the Biden administration’s reckless open border policies and refusal to enforce our nation’s laws.

May 16, 2023: Police Week Hearing Highlights Challenges Facing Law Enforcement, Communities Across the Country Amid Rising Crime

“Over the last decade, consequences for crime have eroded and certain tools used by law enforcement to keep our communities safe have been removed. This has made our job harder and puts the safety of law-abiding residents at risk.” – Sheriff Don Barnes

This week, the Subcommittee on Counterterrorism, Law Enforcement, and Intelligence, led by Chairman August Pfluger (R-TX), and the Subcommittee on Emergency Management and Technology, led by Chairman Anthony D’Esposito (R-NY), held a joint hearing to examine the state of U.S. law enforcement and how the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) engages with state and local authorities across America to fight crime and terrorism, as well as prepare for disaster response.

Witness testimony included Chief Michael Gerke of the Odessa, Texas Police Department, Sheriff Don Barnes of the Orange County, California Sheriff’s Department, and Commissioner Michael Cox of the Boston, Massachusetts Police Department. In the hearing, Members heard directly from law enforcement on the challenges they face every day amid rising crime in cities across America, including a porous Southwest border, anti-police rhetoric and violence, soft-on-crime policies, and hurdles to community policing and information sharing.