Chairmen Green, Comer: Democrats Manipulate Facts to Cover Up Biden Border Crisis
July 14, 2023
WASHINGTON, D.C. — House Committee on Homeland Security Chairman Mark E. Green, MD (R-TN) and House Committee on Oversight and Accountability Chairman James Comer (R-KY) today blasted Democrats for releasing cherry-picked information from the Committees’ transcribed interviews with Chief Patrol Agents stationed along the U.S. southern border.
“The facts make it clear that President Biden created the worst border crisis in American history, but Democrats and the White House are trying to make it seem the border is as secure as Fort Knox. Today’s Democrat memorandum manipulates the facts contained in over 850 pages of testimony from Chief Patrol Agents stationed along the border to cover up the Biden border crisis. In reality, Chief Patrol Agents have detailed to our committees the historically high levels of illegal border crossings, migrant deaths, rescues of migrants put in peril by cartel smuggling organizations, gotaways, and assaults against our heroic Border Patrol agents.
“Our investigation into the Biden border crisis is ongoing, but today we are releasing additional excerpts from Chief Patrol Agents’ testimony to provide the American people with facts. No amount of Democrat spin can change the fact that President Biden and Secretary Mayorkas’ open border policies have ignited a national security and humanitarian catastrophe at the border,” Chairmen Green and Comer said.
Below are additional excerpts from transcribed interviews with Chief Patrol Agents.
Joel Martinez, Chief Patrol Agent, Laredo Sector (June 1, 2023)
Q. In your career with Border Patrol, have you ever seen encounters at this level by number?
Q. Have you ever seen releases at this level by number?
Aaron Heitke, Chief Patrol Agent, San Diego Sector (May 9, 2023)
Q. Have you ever seen encounters this high at the Southwest border?
Q. You mentioned that increased encounter numbers affect agents’ ability to police the border and to capture those who seek to evade apprehension entirely ‑‑ gotaways ‑‑ correct?
Q. Have gotaways increased in the past 2 years?
Q. Are gotaways potentially dangerous from a public safety standpoint?
Q. He [U.S. Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz] was also asked in that same deposition if the crisis that is currently ongoing at the southern border is making the border less safe for Americans and aliens alike. He answered in the affirmative that, yes, that crisis does make Americans and aliens more unsafe. Would you agree with that testimony?
Jason Owens, Chief Patrol Agent, Del Rio Sector (May 5, 2023)
Q. Would you agree that a significant likelihood of release into the United States after a short stay in custody would incentivize someone to try to illegally cross into the United States?
A. So what I will tell you is this: I think that if there is no consequence for an action, there’s no deterrence for a person to not commit that action.
Q. Do you believe that it is important to deter individuals from crossing the border illegally in between ports of entry in the Del Rio Sector?
A. I believe it’s important to deter any individual from violating our laws.
Q. Does the high flow that the Del Rio Sector is currently experiencing have an impact on Border Patrol’s ability to reduce the number of known got‑aways coming into the sector?
Q. And in what ways?
A. As I said before, if my men and women are stuck in a humanitarian effort of processing these folks, they cannot be in two places at once. They cannot be out on patrol. And where I need them out on patrol is to not only account for those got‑aways but to reduce them, where possible.
Everything revolves, as I said before, around having those men and women on the ground doing the job. Everything else is just a force multiplier.
If I can’t have them out on patrol, it makes no ‑‑ it means nothing to have the roads. It means nothing to have physical barrier. It means nothing to have technology. I need them out doing the job that they were hired to do. And where they’re doing something else, they cannot be there.
Q. Are you concerned that individuals who are evading apprehension entirely could present an elevated risk of a public safety threat, such as a criminal ‑‑ prior criminal history or a prior removal history?
A. So here’s my concern. If a person is willing to put themselves into harm’s way crossing through very remote, very dangerous conditions to evade capture, you have to ask yourself why What makes them willing to take that risk? That’s of concern to me.
What’s also of concern to me is I don’t know who that individual is. I don’t know where they came from. I don’t know what their intention is. I don’t know what they brought with them. That unknown represents a risk, a threat. It’s of great concern to anybody that wears this uniform.
Q. Going back, so you’re over capacity in these detention spaces. What are the encounter general trends that you’ve noticed that. You were at the academy in probably FY ’21. But in this last FY, you’ve seen the trend, I assume.
Can you explain a little bit more about what you’ve observed in terms of encounters at your sector?
A. Sure. So obviously we’re very busy, and that seems to be ‑‑ we’re not the exception to the rule. And I can tell you that most of last year I think Del Rio Sector led the Nation day to day in terms of apprehensions. At the end of the fiscal year, we finished off FY ’22 with just over 480,000 apprehensions and right around 200,000 known got‑aways. That was the first year that we had surpassed the Rio Grande Valley Sector for the most apprehensions in the year.
The year before that, we had about 260,000 apprehensions, so it was a substantial increase from fiscal year ’21. In fiscal year ’21, it was busier than the previous 9 fiscal years combined for the Del Rio Sector.
So far this year, we’re on pace to at least match what last year’s numbers were. This year so far, it has been the Rio Grande Valley Sector, El Paso Sector, and Tucson Sector that have been, on a day‑to‑day basis, busier than we are.
That’s leading up to May 11th, and we don’t know what’s going to happen after that.
Anthony “Scott” Good, Chief Patrol Agent, El Paso Sector (June 29, 2023)
Q. I think we’ve discussed this already, but I want to hit it again. Does the likelihood of release into the interior of the United States increase the likelihood that individuals will attempt to illegally enter the United States?
A. It increases the likelihood.
Q. Before taking office or right as he took office, President Biden issued a 100‑day pause on enforcement and removals. Do you think that’s the type of favorable policy that people perceive as a pull factor ‑‑ that is a pull factor?
A. If there aren’t deliverable consequences to entering the country illegally, then there will be a pull factor.