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Chairman Green Slams Biden’s Brownsville Border Photo-Op: “He Cares Far More About Optics Than Actually Addressing This Historic Crisis”

February 29, 2024

WASHINGTON, D.C. –– Today, House Committee on Homeland Security Chairman Mark E. Green, MD (R-TN) issued the following statement in advance of President Joe Biden’s visit to Brownsville, Texas: 
“President Biden’s choice to visit one of the slowest sectors of our Southwest border makes it abundantly clear that he cares far more about optics than actually addressing this historic, self-inflicted crisis. 
“According to reports, the White House canceled a trip to the Tucson Sector earlier this week, where Border Patrol agents are encountering upwards of 2,000 inadmissible aliens every single day. This is far more than the 300 encounters on average in Brownsville, and double what former President Obama’s DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson called a ‘crisis.’ It’s easy to see why the administration relocated the visit.
“In a transcribed interview last year, Chief Patrol Agent John Modlin of the Tucson Sector told our Committee that large groups of illegal aliens in his sector are turning themselves in to Border Patrol because ‘they believe they’re going to stay in the United States.’ If President Biden cared about the men and women on the frontlines of the crisis he helped create, he would start there, rather than engaging in desperate photo-ops that fool no one.
“The American people deserve accountability from this administration, but they will not get that today. President Biden and his impeached DHS secretary could end this crisis now by simply enforcing the laws on the books––laws that bipartisan majorities in Congress passed. Until that happens, the American people––from Tucson, Arizona to Athens, Georgia––will continue to bear the overwhelming and unacceptable cost of this crisis.”

President Biden and Secretary Mayorkas must answer for this historic border crisis. Here are some important questions for the president today with background information:

1. If resources are the answer, why has your administration requested less detention space every year and are you willing to increase detention?
CONTEXT:  The White House is now arguing they lack the resources needed to secure the border, after claiming for years it was secure. The reality is that this is not a resource-driven crisis, but one driven by directives of mass catch-and-release at the border, and gutted enforcement in the interior.

THE FACTS: Secretary Mayorkas has requested less detention space. The decreasing trend from the prior administration is striking:

  • FY 2018: $2.7 billion for 51,379 beds
  • FY 2019: $2.8 billion for 52,000 beds
  • FY 2020: $2.7 billion for 54,000 beds 
  • FY 2021: $3.1 billion for 60,000 beds (the last Trump budget)
  • FY 2022: $1.8 billion for 32,500 beds
  • FY 2023: $1.4 billion for 25,000 beds
  • FY 2024: $1.3 billion for 25,000 beds
  • DHS claimed in FY2022 and FY2023 budget requests that “a reduction in detention capacity level will not impede ICE’s ability to apprehend, detain, and remove noncitizens that present a threat to national security, border security, and public safety.” 

Secretary Mayorkas also refuses to fully utilize detention resources provided by Congress:

  • The Adelanto facility in southern California has a 1,940-alien capacity but houses fewer than 10 aliens.
  • From September 2021 to June 2022, DHS spent $8.5 million for unused bed space in Louisiana.
  • In 2021, four out of five beds were empty at a facility in Tacoma, Washington, which previously housed more than 1,300 aliens on average in the previous administration.
  • In 2021, DHS spent $12.5 million for unused beds at a facility in Georgia.

House Republicans have consistently endorsed providing the tools and resources that DHS law enforcement personnel need to accomplish their mission. 

  • Funding for Border Patrol operations and related Southwest border requirements has increased by over $2.2 billion since FY2021. Similar funding for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has increased by $860 million. 
  • House Republicans’ FY2024 Homeland Security appropriations bill increased border security funding above President Biden’s proposed budget. 
  • H.R. 2, the “Secure the Border Act,” would fund a Border Patrol force of roughly 22,000 agents, the number leaders say they need and about 3,000 more than they currently have. The Biden-Mayorkas supplemental would fund less than half of the 3,000 agents needed.

Read Chairman Green’s statement on ICE’s threat to mass-release illegal aliens into the interior here. Read the Committee’s Phase Five interim report on the massive waste and abuse enabled by DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. Read more from Chairman Green on why the supplemental is not the proper response to the self-inflicted crisis.

2. Are you concerned that your DHS secretary claimed the border was secure for three years before changing his mind––contradicting your own argument that the border hasn’t been secure for a decade? 

CONTEXT: In January, President Biden confirmed the Southwest border is not secure but passed the buck by saying it hasn’t been secure for the “last 10 years.” When pressed, Secretary Mayorkas also confirmed and avoided responsibility, saying, “It certainly is a crisis, and, well, we don’t bear responsibility for a broken system.” He also said the administration is going to “review what options are available to us” regarding taking executive action on the border––even after the president himself said he had done everything he could for border security.

Secretary Mayorkas has said numerous times that the border is secure:

  • 3/1/21: Former Fox reporter Kristen Fisher: “Thank you, Mr. Secretary. Do you believe that right now there is a crisis at the border? Mayorkas: I think that the—the answer is no. I think there is a challenge at the border that we are managing…”
  • 3/21/21: “And quite frankly, when we are finished doing so, the American public will look back on this and say we secured our border and we upheld our values and our principles as a nation.” 
  • 5/26/21: The Biden administration’s efforts on the border crisis “speak powerfully to the fact the border is closed and that we enforce the laws that Congress has passed, but we will do so effectively to ensure the greatest impact and outcome from the resources that we have.”
  • 9/22/21: “Congressman [Pfluger], the border is secure. We are executing our plan. I have been very clear and unequivocal in that regard…Congressman, [the border] is no less secure than it was previously.
  • 7/3/22: ABC’s Martha Raddatz: “Just a simple question: Do you think it’s working?” Mayorkas: “I think that we are doing a good job.”
  • 11/15/22: Representative Dan Bishop, R-N.C.: “Secretary Mayorkas, do you continue to maintain that the border is secure? Mayorkas: “Yes. We are working day in and day out to enhance its security, Congressman.
  • 1/5/23: “Let me be clear, Title 42 or not, the border is not open.”
  • 4/19/23: “It is my testimony that the border is secure.” 

THE FACTS: Secretary Mayorkas confirmed last month that the release rate for illegal aliens apprehended at the border is around 85%.

  • Since President Biden and Secretary Mayorkas took office, there have been 8.7 million encounters nationwide and over 7.2 million encounters at the Southwest border (SWB). From FY2017 to FY2020, there were just 2,437,856 encounters at the SWB combined.
  • Over 1.8 million known gotaways have evaded Border Patrol agents altogether. Between FY2017 and FY2020 there were only 521,247 known gotaways. In testimony before the Committee by then-Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz in 2023, he said the total number of gotaways could be as much as 20% higher. 
  • Since FY2021, 340 individuals on the terrorist watchlist have attempted to cross our Southwest border illegally.
  • In December, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) FY2023 report revealed the number of inadmissible aliens on the “non-detained docket” had increased from 3.7 million in FY2021 to 6.2 million in FY2023. The non-detained docket includes illegal aliens who are not detained in ICE custody.  

Read the Committee’s Phase One interim report detailing Secretary Mayorkas’ lies to Congress here. Read about the lack of consequences enforced by DHS for illegal entry and how mass releases are functioning as a pull factor for millions of illegal aliens from interviews with Border Patrol chief patrol agents. Read the January “Startling Stats” factsheet here.

3.Crimes caused by illegal aliens have been devastating our communities––what is your plan to address it and what is your message to the families?


  • Venezuelan national Jose Antonio Ibarra was arrested last Friday and charged with the murder of 22-year-old University of Georgia student Laken Riley. Ibarra entered the country illegally in September 2022 and was subsequently released by CBP into the interior of the United States. Ibarra was arrested in New York City on September 14, 2023 and was issued a citation in October 2023 for shoplifting in Athens, GA. 
  • This month, in Campbell County, Virginia, Renzo Mendoza Montes, a Venezuelan national, was arrested in connection with a sexual assault on a minor. Mendoza is in the U.S. illegally after being processed and released by Border Patrol in El Paso, Texas on September 2, 2023.
  • In February 2024, Angel Matias Castellanos-Orellana allegedly raped a 14-year-old girl at knifepoint. He was later arrested on February 25, 2024 after robbing a man at knifepoint. 

THE FACTS: In FY2023, CBP arrested 35,433 aliens with criminal convictions or outstanding warrants nationwide, including 598 known gang members, 178 of those being MS-13 members. 

Read the letter Chairman Green sent to Secretary Mayorkas demanding answers on Laken Riley’s killer here. Read the Phase Three Interim Report on the devastating human costs of DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas’ open-borders policies.

4. Would you roll back your expanded parole programs now that we have evidence that not only are they contrary to the law, but they are costing American lives?

CONTEXT: The perpetrator of the horrific crime against Laken Riley was paroled into the country after being apprehended. Since taking office, Secretary Mayorkas has directed the parole of 1.7 million inadmissible aliens into the country. Secretary Mayorkas has willfully misused parole authority laid out in § 212(d)(5)(A) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) that permits parole to be granted “only on a case-by-case basis,” temporarily, and “for urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit.”

THE FACTS: Secretary Mayorkas has paroled countless aliens into the United States in violation of limits set by Congress. No other administration has used categorical parole programs to the extent that Secretary Mayorkas has.

Between ports of entry:

  • Several Chief Patrol Agents admitted to the Committee that they have been told to parole illegal aliens based only on detention capacity or demographic (nationality or family units)—contrary to the clear text of the statute.
  • In FY2022, when Parole + ATD was utilized, U.S. Border Patrol at the Southwest border encountered an average of 6,045 illegal aliens per day. It is impossible to meaningfully interview and consider each alien on a case-by-case basis at that rate.

Read the articles of impeachment against Secretary Mayorkas here. Read Chairman Green’s statement on the impeachment of Secretary Mayorkas here.