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Chairman Green in Newsweek: “The Biden Administration Just Keeps Making Our Border Crisis Worse”

December 15, 2023

WASHINGTON D.C. – Today, House Committee on Homeland Security Chairman Mark E. Green, MD (R-TN) published an op-ed in Newsweek on Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas’ widespread failure to detain illegal immigrants using Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention resources in accordance with their intended purpose, as well as the reported potential closure of the Adelanto detention facility in southern California. The Committee is currently investigating officials at ICE, including current official Claire Trickler-McNulty and her former colleague, Andrew Lorenzen-Strait, who have reportedly worked to undermine the agency’s primary enforcement mission. In recent closed-door interviews before the Committee, several Border Patrol agents testified that the lack of detention functions as an incentive for more illegal immigration.


The Biden Administration Just Keeps Making Our Border Crisis Worse
Chairman Mark E. Green, MD (R-TN)
December 15, 2023

For nearly three years, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has overseen, and indeed facilitated, the worst border crisis in American history. The evidence at this point is overwhelming—he has refused to follow and enforce numerous immigration laws passed by Congress, leading to unprecedented chaos and devastation at the Southwest border and across the country.

For example, the secretary has abused section 235(b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. This law requires that all illegal aliens who enter the country be detained, whether they apply for asylum or not, until they are removed from the United States or found to have a legitimate claim.

Secretary Mayorkas has run roughshod over this statutory requirement. On his watch, more than 1.6 million inadmissible aliens have been paroled by DHS into the interior. Another 1.1 million have been provided “notices to appear” and released on their own recognizance, with the promise they will show up for their immigration court hearing. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Non-Detained Docket has grown from 3.26 million in Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 to more than 5.7 million as of September 2023.

In FY2013, under President Barack Obama, 82 percent of all aliens encountered were detained by ICE for the duration of their immigration case, and another nine percent were detained for at least some portion of those proceedings. In FY2021, those numbers dropped to an appalling 10 percent and 26 percent, respectively, meaning nearly two-thirds of all encounters in the Biden administration’s first year were never detained, as required by law.

The courts have taken note of Secretary Mayorkas’ malfeasance. In his May 2023 decision vacating one of the secretary’s legally dubious parole policies, federal judge Kent Wetherell noted that “in late January or early February of 2021, DHS made a discrete change in detention policy from ‘release only if there is a compelling reason to’ to ‘release unless there is a compelling reason not to.'”

Secretary Mayorkas’ failure to follow the law has also played out in his ongoing efforts to close ICE detention facilities across the United States. Since he took office, DHS has shuttered numerous facilities, and recent reports suggest that the latest on the chopping block is the detention center in Adelanto, California.

This Southern California facility can hold roughly 2,000 individuals, but is currently housing only about half a dozen illegal aliens due to an outdated court order from September 2020 prohibiting ICE from sending more detainees to the complex due to COVID-19 concerns. Despite those irrelevant concerns, the Biden administration has refused to challenge the court order, and as of last month, reports surfaced that DHS had chosen to close down operations entirely.

With a record number of illegal aliens crossing our borders every single day, this move is nonsensical. In the midst of a crisis, why is Secretary Mayorkas taking detention resources off the table?

It makes even less sense when you consider that among the $14 billion requested by the Biden administration as part of its “border security” supplemental spending package are hundreds of millions of dollars requested for…more ICE detention beds! You read that right—while Secretary Mayorkas is asking for more funding for bedspace, he’s simultaneously cutting bedspace.

The reality is that Secretary Mayorkas isn’t interested in using these detention beds for their intended purpose—holding illegal aliens while their cases are adjudicated and then promptly removing them. He has consistently failed to make use of the beds Congress has paid for. In FY2021, despite the 34,000 beds available on an average daily basis, DHS only made use of around 19,000 of them. In FY2022, Secretary Mayorkas decreased the requested number of beds to 31,500, but only used 22,630. The department’s FY2024 request dropped to 25,000 beds.

In other words, as his policies have driven up the demand for ICE detention space, Secretary Mayorkas has requested less and less of it. And now he’s suddenly seen the light? Color me skeptical.

We do need more detention space, but not as spillover capacity for overwhelmed Border Patrol facilities. These facilities should not be used as a way to help this secretary hide the consequences of his open-borders policies from the American people. Rather, they must be used to hold illegal aliens until they are removed.

That’s what the law requires, and until Congress gets serious about ending Secretary Mayorkas’ abuse of detention, this madness will continue.