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Chairman Green: We Must Address the “Tragedy and Trauma” Caused by the Biden-Mayorkas Border Crisis

September 13, 2023

Delivers opening remarks in hearing for phase three of oversight investigation into causes and consequences of Southwest border crisis

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, House Committee on Homeland Security Chairman Mark E. Green, MD (R-TN), delivered the following opening remarks during a full committee hearing to examine the human cost of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and President Biden’s historic crisis at the Southwest border and how it has devastated the lives and livelihoods of Americans and migrants alike. This hearing is part of the Committee’s five-phase investigation into the unprecedented crisis at the Southwest border and Mayorkas’ failure to do his duty to defend the homeland. Watch the full hearing here.

Watch Chairman Green’s full opening remarks in a hearing entitled “An Unbearable Price: The Devastating Human Costs of the Biden-Mayorkas Border Crisis.”

As prepared for delivery:

When we talk about the crisis at our Southwest border, it’s easy to focus on the big picture: the Biden administration’s open-borders policies, the chaos unfolding directly at the border itself, and the larger costs that this unprecedented wave of illegal immigration has imposed on our society. 

We tend to talk about record Border Patrol apprehensions—which, by the way, have risen from a temporary “low” of 100,000 in June to 132,000 in July and a reported 177,000 in August, completely undermining claims that Mayorkas’ new policies would somehow limit illegal crossings. And that’s before counting all those coming in via CBP One or Mayorkas’ new mass-parole programs at ports of entry. 

All these things are worth focusing on, and that’s why this committee is investigating the Biden administration’s border crisis, particularly DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas’ dereliction of duty and his radical open-border policies. 

However, these larger discussions often overlook the devastating human toll this crisis has taken on individuals and families across the country. 

We’ve long said that this crisis has turned every state into a border state and every town into a border town. The consequences of the chaos at the Southwest border have spread throughout our country, impacting all Americans. 
The men and women of our panel bear witness to this tragic reality. 

Before we hear their stories, I want to highlight a few of the ways in which Mayorkas’ open-borders policies have exacted a terrible price on an untold number of innocent and vulnerable people—Americans AND migrants alike. 

Let’s start with fentanyl. Phase 2 of this committee’s investigation established that the Mexican cartels have taken unprecedented control of the Southwest border and have used that control to push record amounts of fentanyl across the border and into our communities. Tens of thousands of Americans are dying from fentanyl poisoning, often without knowing they’re consuming the drug in the first place—and DHS has said they think they’re only catching 5-10 percent of the fentanyl crossing our border. 

The CDC predicted in May that opioid overdose deaths, including those from fentanyl, increased in 2022 to nearly 83,000. The cartels are killing Americans, particularly young people, one poisoning at a time. Yet where is the outrage from the Biden administration? Where is the action?

The cartels have exacted a heavy price from the very migrants they smuggle and traffic across the border, as well. At least 1,700 migrants have been found dead on U.S. soil under this administration’s policies. CBP stopped publicly reporting the statistic after FY21, but I am calling on them to report this figure once again, so the American people understand the human cost of this open border. 

Former Border Patrol Chief Rodney Scott recently told this committee, quote, “Chaos kills people, and we created a chaotic border situation.” End quote. Sadly, the numbers show that he’s right. 

Migrants are also being abused and exploited to an unprecedented degree. Women and children are being sexually assaulted along the journey, while others who eventually make it to the United States are lured or coerced into sex slavery. 

According to a New York Post report, brothels are operating in broad daylight in Sunset Park [Brooklyn], where immigrants are reportedly coerced into prostitution. 

CBP has recorded a historic number of encounters of unaccompanied minors at the Southwest border since Mayorkas took the helm. He announced he would release these children into the United States instead of sending them home to their families—around 400,000 since February 2021! Talk about separating families?

This secretary has separated 400,000 children from their families. Between DHS and the Department of Health and Human Services, hundreds of thousands of these kids have been released into the interior, often to individuals who have no business taking care of a minor. 

Tragically, many of these children have been placed into exploitative situations, often because the Biden administration has eliminated basic safety protocols from the vetting process. As one DHS official said back in 2021, quote, “This administration wants these families and kids released quickly. That is their No. 1 goal, so they are not going to do anything to slow that process down.” 

The Biden administration cares more about politics than ensuring minors are not exploited and abused. And make no mistake, they certainly have been—to a horrific degree. 

The Biden administration has reportedly lost track of more than 85,000 UACs after release. A Florida grand jury investigation into the handling of these minors found that in one case, 100 children were sent to the same address in Austin, Texas. Other addresses in Texas received 44 and 25 of these children! 

These minors themselves are being pushed into servitude of all kinds, from the sex trade to forced labor, as the New York Times reported extensively earlier this year.

Our committee has been digging into this issue for months now, and let me tell you, when we publish our findings, the American people will be shocked and disgusted at how Secretary Mayorkas’ policies have explicitly led to the mass trafficking, exploitation, and abuse of vulnerable minors. It is truly horrifying. I cannot understand why this President remains confident in a secretary who has put so many American lives into the crosshairs of the cartels.

Then there’s the toll on law enforcement across this country. No professional group has been hit harder by Mayorkas’ border crisis than federal, state, and local law enforcement. Consider that Border Patrol suicides have reached record highs in the last several years. 

Suicide is a complex and heavy topic, and this committee will always address it with the utmost respect, never through the lens of politics.

But as former Border Patrol officials and spouses have told us, the strain and demands placed on these agents by the ongoing crisis have created an environment in which agents face untold trauma, anxiety, and depression. Those three words—trauma, anxiety, and depression—were words used by the wife of a Border Patrol agent earlier this year when telling us what agents experience today. They deserve so much better. 

CBP officials have also increasingly been forced to conduct rescue operations to save those crossing illegally. This fiscal year alone, CBP has conducted more than 28,000 rescue operations, up from just 5,297 in FY19. In FY21, it was 13,256. In FY22, it was 22,522. See a trend here? 

CBP is on track for more rescue operations this fiscal year than from FY2011 to FY20 combined. The more people flood across our border, the more Border Patrol agents and Air & Marine officers must put themselves at significant risk to save them, risking trauma, anxiety and depression.

And let the record reflect the bravery and selflessness of Texas National Guard Specialist Bishop Evans, who died in April 2022 after trying to save two individuals struggling in the Rio Grande. Evans’ valiant action saved their lives, but cost him his own in the process. It was later determined that the pair were involved in smuggling narcotics into the United States. Let us also not forget Marine Interdiction Agent, Michael Maceda, who died in the line of duty last November while attempting to intercept a drug smuggling vessel off the coast of Puerto Rico. We do not deserve public servants like Bishop Evans and Agent Maceda and they should both be alive today. And, of course, let’s talk about the crimes committed by illegal aliens in this country. 

The sanctuary cities that have welcomed vast numbers of illegal aliens into their communities have seen crime spike. In Chicago, one recent headline read, “No rule of law: city council members decry criminal activity outside of migrant shelters.” From New York comes another disturbing headline: “Two men beaten by group of ‘disorderly’ migrants outside NYC shelter—one victim pushed through glass door.” One illegal alien from Venezuela has been arrested six times for 14 crimes within just two months of arriving in the Big Apple.

In May, a 15-year-old girl in Alabama was raped in a restaurant bathroom by an illegal alien released into this country in November 2021 after giving Border Patrol agents a fake name. 

That same month, another illegal alien sexually assaulted a young woman at the point of a machete in Prince George’s County, Maryland—not an hour up the road from where we sit. Last year, twenty-year-old Kayla Hamilton of Maryland was raped and murdered by an illegal alien who was also a member of MS-13. 

And just a couple of weeks ago, an illegal alien released into the country in 2022 after crossing the Southwest border killed an 11-year-old boy in Ohio after crashing into the school bus carrying this young boy and other children on their first day of school.

A family in my own state who lost their own son to an illegal alien’s reckless driving has been working tirelessly ever since to shine a light on the crimes committed by those unlawfully present in this country. I specifically want to thank Wendy Corcoran and her family for their efforts in honor of their son, Pierce, whose life was taken by an illegal alien. 

We need more patriots like Wendy who will do the work many local officials often can’t—or won’t. These crimes are real. The tragedy and trauma caused by these illegal aliens will last lifetimes. 

During our last hearing, some of our colleagues across the aisle said they were “embarrassed” that we were holding more hearings about the impact of this crisis on the American people. They claimed such oversight was a “waste of time.”

I, and the majority of the American people, strongly disagree. In fact, numerous Democrat state and local leaders have had enough.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams: “[W]e are facing an unprecedented state of emergency. … [W]e are past our breaking point. New Yorkers’ compassion may be limitless, but our resources are not.”

Massachusetts Governor Maura Healey: “[T]here now exists in the Commonwealth a state of emergency due to rapid and unabating increases in the number of families with children and pregnant [women]—many of them new arriving migrants and refugees—living with the state but without the means to secure safe shelters in our communities.”

Chicago Alderman Raymond Lopez: “We know the buses keep coming in every day, and we know that we have a thousand people in police stations right now with no clear plan for what to do and no way of paying for whatever’s coming down the pipe.”

Hearing the stories of the Americans victimized by Biden and Mayorkas’ open border is not a waste of time. Their lives are worth whatever energy we can exert to inform the American people of the travesty of this Secretary’s failures to follow the laws and uphold his oath to protect the American people.  

I hope we inform the president and perhaps he will fire Mayorkas and replace him with someone who at least cares enough to understand the cartels’ strategies. Secretary Mayorkas admitted he did not as you will recall.  Holding this administration accountable for causing this humanitarian disaster is not a waste of time. 

Today, everyone on this committee has a choice: continue to ignore the horrific consequences of the border crisis, or address the human tragedies caused by our wide-open border that impact every one of our districts.  

This shouldn’t be a partisan issue. We must deal with the human costs of this terrible crisis. And we must do so now.