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“Unacceptable”: Chairmen Green, Higgins Blast DHS Silence on Cartel Weaponization of Mayorkas’ CBP One App

September 16, 2023

WASHINGTON, D.C. — This week, House Committee on Homeland Security Chairman Mark E. Green, MD (R-TN) and Subcommittee on Border Security and Enforcement Chairman Clay Higgins (R-LA) demanded answers from Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on recent reports that criminal cartels are abusing the Biden administration’s expanded use of the CBP One app to enhance their human smuggling operations. This follow-up letter comes as DHS is currently more than 90 days overdue in producing documents and information in response to the Committee’s earlier inquiry into the abuse of the app.

In the letter, the Chairmen state, “The Committee on Homeland Security (Committee) is continuing its oversight of the Department of Homeland Security’s (Department) expanded use of the CBP One application (CBP One). On June 1, 2023, the Committee sent a letter to the Department with a deadline of June 15, 2023 to produce documents and information related to the Department’s use of CBP One at the Southwest border. The Department failed to produce any substantive response. The Department’s lack of transparency is disconcerting and unacceptable. … At a recent hearing before the House Judiciary Committee, you stated that the CBP One app, ‘cuts out the smuggling organizations that impose such tragedy and trauma on vulnerable individuals purely for the sake of profit.’ Unfortunately, your claims have simply not come true.”

The Chairmen continue, “Since our June 1, 2023, letter, reporting suggests that cartels are exploiting CBP One. Mexican officials will not let a migrant coming from Guatemala cross the Mexican border unlessthe migrant has a CBP One appointment. Through geofencing, however, CBP One only allows a person physically present in central or northern Mexico to book an appointment at a U.S. port of entry. To evade CBP One’s geofencing requirements, cartels use virtual private networks (VPN), allowing them to secure appointments for migrants who are not in Mexico. Cartels charge migrants a fee to book the appointments, contradicting the Department’s claims that CBP One cuts cartels’ profits. CBP One exemplifies another failed Department policy that contributes to the crisis at our Southwest border.”

The Chairmen conclude, “The recent revelations about cartels exploiting CBP One only heighten our concern about the Department’s expanded use of the application at the Southwest border. Our June 1, 2023, letter requested that you produce documents and information by June 15, 2023. The requested documents are now 90 days overdue. In addition to the requests made in the June 1, 2023, letter, please provide the following documents and information as soon as possible[.]”

Read their full letter here.


On June 1, Chairman Green and Subcommittee Chairman Higgins sent a letter to Secretary Mayorkas requesting documents and information pertaining to DHS’s expanded use of the CBP One app, a request that has been ignored by the department. This app was created for commercial use, but the Biden administration is now using it to incentivize otherwise inadmissible aliens to schedule an appointment and claim asylum directly at a port of entry, after which they will be released into the interior, regardless of the legitimacy of their claim.  

Last month, Washington Examiner report confirmed that Mexican cartels are abusing the CBP One app as part of their vast human smuggling operations, using virtual private networks (VPN) to skirt requirements that aliens signing up for appointments at ports of entry via CBP One be present in northern Mexico before making the appointment. Using these VPNs, the cartels can exploit vulnerabilities in the app and schedule appointments for individuals regardless of their location—all for a fee—and they advertise this “service” on social media.

Chairman Green and the Homeland Security Committee have warned of the dangers of the expanded use of the CBP One app for months. In April, the Committee introduced the Border Reinforcement Act, legislation that was later passed by the House as part of Republicans’ Secure the Border Act. This legislation includes a provision to restrict the use of the CBP One app to its original intent—allowing for the efficient movement of commercial goods into the United States.