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“Every State is Now a Border State”: House Homeland Security Committee Hears Testimony from Colleagues on Impacts of the Border Crisis

December 7, 2023

WASHINGTON, D.C. — This week, the House Committee on Homeland Security, led by Chairman Mark E. Green, MD (R-TN), held a hearing to receive testimony from non-Committee members of Congress on legislation and oversight efforts that fall under the Committee’s jurisdiction. Testimony was provided by Reps. Kevin Hern (R-OK), Stephanie Bice (R-OK), Andy Ogles (R-TN), Tim Burchett (R-TN), Beth Van Duyne (R-TX), Pat Fallon (R-TX), Juan Ciscomani (R-AZ), Young Kim (R-CA), Byron Donalds (R-FL), James Moylan (R-Guam), and Gabe Vasquez (D-NM).

The members highlighted the historic crisis at our Southwest border created by President Biden’s open-borders policies and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas’ refusal to enforce the laws passed by Congress. The members drew attention to the unprecedented number of fentanyl deaths in America, the use of mass parole and release of inadmissible aliens, and the concerning number of aliens on the terrorist watchlist who have been apprehended at the Southwest border.

Rep. Hern explained the various failed policies of the Biden administration that encourage the border crisis:

“Using a mass-parole system, which violates the Administrative Procedure Act, to release record amounts of illegal aliens into the country. Abusing the parole system to release hundreds of thousands illegal aliens into the country, violating the Immigration and Nationalities Act’s limit on humanitarian parole. Refusing to reimplement ‘Remain in Mexico’ after a federal district court decision ordered him to. Restricting which migrants ICE officials are able to detain and deport. Quietly changing the detention policy from ‘release only if there is a compelling reason’ to ‘release unless there is a compelling reason not to.’ A change we only now know about because a federal district court in Florida caught it.”

“[Mayorkas] has testified to this committee, under oath, that the border is secure and that he has operational control at the Southwest border. Absolutely no one believes that. Biden hasn’t seen the real border crisis, but I have several times. And thanks to the leadership of Governor Abbott, cities across the country are getting a small taste of what our border communities have been going through these last three years. Even the mayor of New York City had to admit that there is a crisis at our Southern border. If this is what security and operational control looks like to Mayorkas, then it is no wonder he hasn’t fixed the Democrats’ border disaster.”

In her testimony, Rep. Bice detailed the devastating public health crisis caused by fentanyl smuggling by cartels across our Southwest border:

“As this committee has pointed out, our country is facing a fentanyl epidemic, killing tens of thousands of Americans each year. In September, the Oklahoma City Police apprehended a man who was transporting 2,100 pills laced with fentanyl in his car. It is important to highlight that just two milligrams of fentanyl can be lethal. Back in August, my home state Governor Kevin Stitt said that fentanyl-related deaths in Oklahoma have increased by nearly 500 percent over the past few years. And according to the Oklahoma State Department of Health, fentanyl is the leading substance involved in drug overdoses in Oklahoma. 
“Three major interstate highways intersect in my district. In two of my constituent counties, Oklahoma and Canadian, have been designated as ‘high intensity drug trafficking areas’ by the Office of National Drug Control Policy. In fact, Canadian county was just added this summer. While more funding could, and should, go to address this matter, the best way to alleviate the high rate of drug trafficking within the interior of the country is to reduce the supply of illicit drugs coming across our borders. In fiscal year 2023, nearly 23,000 pounds of fentanyl was seized at the Southwest border.” 

Rep. Ogles emphasized the financial burden placed on taxpayers across the country amid the border crisis:
“While this administration subsidizes lawbreakers, our citizens are forced to bear the consequences. This administration’s indifference to the very real suffering of the American people has continued and compounding effects…In total, illegal immigration costs Volunteer State taxpayers, my home state, $97.3 million, nearly a billion dollars in 2023.” 

On how the influx of inadmissible aliens impacts community resources, Rep. Burchett said:
Illegal immigration has taken a huge toll on small towns and cities all over the country, not just the ones on the Southern border. When I was mayor of Knox County in Tennessee, I saw this first hand. Law enforcement certainly feels the effects of illegal immigration, but it is not the only industry that is impacted. It has a cost on everyone in the community like the folks in our education system. I remember visiting one grade school in Knoxville that had students from 20 different backgrounds. Each of them was required to have someone in there to help them along. Lots of communities are struggling to get the funding for English as a Second Language teachers to accommodate these incredible language barriers. It’s not the kids’ fault, it’s not the teachers’ fault, it’s the government’s fault. Our government doesn’t see the costs, but they are significant. Illegal immigration also takes a toll on our housing and transportation system, public services funding is drained, and no one sees this beyond the local level.”

Rep. Van Duyne detailed the shocking numbers in Texas and the extent to which the state has had to step in to manage the crisis:

“The impact in my home state of Texas is profound. From the lives lost, property destroyed, [and] taxpayer dollars spent, to not only [handling] the security our federal government has surrendered to Mexican cartels, but also on housing, schooling, and healthcare for the vast illegal immigrant population. So far under the Biden administration, approximately four million illegal aliens have unlawfully crossed the Texas border, 1.9 million in 2023 alone, representing half of nearly those apprehended across the country. Additionally, Texas has had about half a million known gotaways detected by Border Patrol, representing nearly 60 percent of those detected nationwide. And as you’re aware, those gotaways are the most dangerous. These illegal aliens are most likely violent criminals, gang members, and potential members of terrorist cells now operating in our country. 

“To stop the vast tsunami of human trafficking, drug trafficking, and invasion of our country, Texas has had to spend over $5 billion to support local law enforcement operations to support and protect our people through Operation Lone Star. Under which, Texas has apprehended over 400,000 illegal immigrants, arrested more than 33,000 criminals with more than 30,000 felonies reported, and seized more than 426 million lethal doses of fentanyl. Our state shouldn’t have to be responsible for this kind of massive national security operation.”

Rep. Ciscomani, who represents a border district, explains how this surge has now become “the norm”:
Under this administration, every state is now a border state. Every state is being forced to deal with the consequences of a border that is becoming little more than a line on a map.
“In the Tucson sector alone CBP has encountered over 2,800 crossings in one day last week. We have seen well over 100,000 migrants in less than 60 days. We have led the entire border with apprehension numbers from the last four months. According to CBP, this is ‘fueled by smugglers peddling disinformation to prey on vulnerable individuals and encourage migration.’ We have seen videos of migrants, led by the cartels, cutting through the border wall and shuffled across. We are seeing thousands of migrants a day. This type of surge is no longer unprecedented. For communities in my district, it has become the norm.”

Rep. Kim drew attention to the startling amount of unaccompanied alien children at the border:
“The border crisis has led to many unaccompanied migrant children being released to live with strangers who could exploit them. Additionally, there are reports that the federal government has lost contact with tens of thousands of migrant children. As a mother, as a grandmother, it pains me to think that there are children in this country not enjoying the care, the protection, and the love of their own parents.”

Rep. Fallon blasts Secretary Mayorkas’ claim of a secure border:
“Is the border secure? It is a binary choice, it’s yes or no. In a recent poll 71 percent of Americans did not think the border was secure. I don’t think this issue can be ignored any longer. Unless of course your name is Alejandro Mayorkas. Because he has testified on multiple occasions that he believes the border is secure. And in fact, in this very Committee on September 22, 2021, he said, and I want to get this right by quoting him, that the border was ‘no less secure than it was previously.’ That’s an interesting statement, but is it true? So we have data, and it proves that to be patently false. Since Joe Biden took office, there have been more than eight million border crossings in his first 34 months in office. Compare that to the Obama administration, that was 1.36 million. Compare that to the Trump administration that was 1.6 million. So, it is five times worse than it was under the previous two administrations.”

Speaking on the impacts in Florida, Rep. Donalds detailed what actions the state has had to take amid the border crisis:
“The out-of-control border is impacting my district the same way it’s impacting every district throughout these United States. In 2021, the top two destination states for apprehended migrants awaiting their parole hearing were Texas and Florida…When a migrant is released into our country, very rarely do they actually go for the subsequent immigration hearing. In 2019, over $2 billion in Florida alone was spent to provide illegal aliens with Medicaid, emergency healthcare, and schooling. Additionally. last year, the Florida legislature allocated $12 million for illegal alien relocation because our state was being burdened by these issues.”