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House Homeland Security Republicans Hold Secretary Mayorkas Accountable for Woefully Inadequate FY25 DHS Budget Request, Refusal to Comply With the Law

April 17, 2024

WASHINGTON, D.C. –– This week, the House Committee on Homeland Security, led by Chairman Mark E. Green, MD (R-TN), held a hearing to examine the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) woefully inadequate Fiscal Year (FY) 2025 budget request. The Committee received testimony from DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, who made his first appearance before the Committee following his historic impeachment for high crimes and misdemeanors in February.

In the hearing, Secretary Mayorkas failed to sufficiently answer questions from members concerning the ongoing national security threats posed by individuals on the terrorist watchlist who cross the vulnerable Southwest border, what part of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) gives him the authority to grant mass parole for inadmissible aliens, and why his department is not properly utilizing or requesting sufficient Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention beds. When the Secretary attempted to shift the blame to Congress, members reiterated that the Senate has not taken up or passed House Republicans’ H.R.2, the Secure the Border Act, which is the strongest border security legislation passed by Congress in history.

Following the hearing, members of the Committee, who were designated as impeachment managers, delivered two articles of impeachment against Secretary Mayorkas from the House of Representatives to the Senate.

Chairman Green questioned Secretary Mayorkas on his failure to properly utilize ICE detention beds and comply with the INA:
“Do you know how many ICE detention beds were empty on average during your tenure?”
Secretary Mayorkas answered, in part: 
“We maximize the use of the detention beds that are available.”
Chairman Green concluded: 
“Let me just share what has been put out in documents from your department. In each year of your tenure there have been thousands of beds available per day––roughly 9,000 a day in FY21. 3,000 a day in FY22. Meaning while you assert that “shall detain” is what you want to do, what you agree the law says, we are leaving thousands of beds empty every day.”

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX) highlighted Secretary Mayorkas’ decision to direct U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to not detain all criminal illegal aliens:
“[The INA] states that the government shall take into custody any alien that has committed an aggravated felony––those are dangerous violent criminals. As you know, you’re an attorney as am I, ‘shall’ is mandatory language. It doesn’t say maybe. It doesn’t say whatever you think at the time…Yet in September 2021, your memo to your Border Patrol agents entitled ‘Guidance for Enforcement of Civil Immigration Law,’ you instructed your Border Patrol officers not to take prior criminal conduct into account when taking enforcement action…You directed your own agents on the ground, on the border, to defy the laws of Congress––to release violent criminals into our country.”

Subcommittee on Oversight, Investigations, and Accountability Chairman Dan Bishop (R-NC) asked Secretary Mayorkas about the tragic murder of a Georgia student, Laken Riley, by an inadmissible alien: 
“Under your orders, the Department of Homeland Security paroled Venezuelan Jose Ibarra into the United States. He, of course, went on to do a variety of crimes culminating in beating a young woman to death in Georgia. The relevant statute grants you authority to parole aliens into the United States only on a case-by-case basis, for urgent humanitarian reasons, or significant public benefit. Which was it, in Mr. Ibarra’s case––humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit that you paroled him into the United States?”
Secretary Mayorkas did not answer the question but instead brazenly answered:
“We abide by the law. We apply our parole processes in obedience of the law. The public safety of the American people is our highest priority.”

Vice Chairman Michael Guest (R-MS) pressed Secretary Mayorkas on his request for fewer ICE detention beds for FY25 than Congress passed in the FY24 budget:
“We are giving you more money than you are asking for and then you are coming into these hearings and you are trying to say that you don’t have the financial resources that you need to carry out the job…The fact that you come in and you once again you ask for less detention beds…than we funded in the FY24 budget. You told me in that hearing last week that you agreed with the Senate [bill’s] 50,000 detention beds but yet you come in and you ask Congress only to fund 34,000, when we currently are funding 41,500. And you continue to seek to place the blame on us.”

Subcommittee on Counterterrorism, Law Enforcement, and Intelligence Chairman August Pfluger (R-TX) questioned Secretary Mayorkas on the national security threat posed by aliens on the terrorist watchlist crossing the Southwest border:

“Is the border secure?”

Secretary Mayorkas answered:

“With the authorities and funding I have, it is as secure as it can be.”

Pfluger continued:

“Have you briefed the president that a terrorist attack on the United States of America is imminent?”

Secretary Mayorkas answered:

“Let me assure that the safety and security of the American people–”

After Secretary Mayorkas doded the question multiple times, Pfluger asked:

“Have you briefed the president that there are known or suspected terrorists still at large in the United States?”

Secretary Mayorkas repeated himself and answered once Pfluger pressed him again:

“Is that a no? Have you not briefed the president?”


“Let me ask you a question about your previous testimony in November. I asked you then, I said, ‘Is every single person who matched the terror watchlist—have they been apprehended?’ And you did not give me an answer. I will ask you again.”

Secretary Mayorkas answered:

“Let me assure you once again, that individuals that pose a threat to our national security or the safety of the American people are the highest priority for detention.”

Pfluger continued:

“Are they all detained?”

After Secretary Mayorkas continued to repeat his previous answer, Pfluger asked once more:

“Are there people still at large that match the terrorist watchlist?”

Secretary Mayorkas continued deflecting:

“If an individual is on the Terrorist Screening Dataset (TSDS) and they pose a threat to public safety, they are a priority for detention.”

Rep. Mike Ezell (R-MS) asked Secretary Mayorkas about the national security threat posed by his open border as national security threats from our adversaries grow: 
“Mr. Mayorkas your open-border policies have granted parole to a host of illegal aliens from regions in the Middle East and West Africa that are known for being hotbeds for terrorism. Clearly, this administration’s policies have emboldened countries such as Iran like what we saw over the weekend with their attacks on Israel. Can you tell me confidently that no current or former Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps members or members of Islamic terrorist organizations have been granted parole into the United States?”
Mayorkas refused to answer:
“Congressman, let me assure you that an individual who poses a threat to our national security is a priority for detention and removal.”
Ezell continued:
“What about anyone from the People’s Liberation Army of the Chinese Communist Party?”
Secretary Mayorkas deflected:
“Same answer, Congressman.”

Subcommittee on Emergency Management and Technology Chairman Anthony D’Esposito (R-NY) questioned Secretary Mayorkas on House Republicans’ “Secure the Border Act,” and exposed the disingenuousness of calling for the House to pass a border bill the Senate hasn’t even approved:
“[H.R. 2] is the most comprehensive border security bill that has been passed out of the House of Representatives in decades and you’re the Secretary of Homeland Security and you’re not certain or sure of any of the items in that legislation that you would agree with?”
Secretary Mayorkas answered:
“Congressman, let me assure you that I support the Senate’s bipartisan—”
D’Esposito continued:
“I’m not asking about the Senate bipartisan legislation, I’m asking about H.R. 2, the only piece of border security legislation that has been passed through the House of Representatives. We continue to talk about this bipartisan legislation, this magical legislation that has yet to make it out of the Senate— that doesn’t have the support to make it out of that, but we still have the administration, the Secretary of Homeland Security, telling us to support legislation that can’t get passed. You don’t remember any parts of H.R. 2 that you support?”
Secretary Mayorkas continued: 
“Congressmen, I can share with you some of the grave infirmities of H.R. 2—”
D’Esposito concluded:
“I’m asking for the parts that you support, because my point is that back in May, House Republicans out of this committee passed H.R. 2, the Secure the Border Act, we sent it over to the Senate, that should have begun the negotiations. That should have been the starting point to secure our border. 
“I’ve heard colleagues on the other side of the aisle say that people in America are ‘freaking out’ that there’s chaos. Yes, people are freaking out. Yes, there is chaos. Because Joe Biden and the [Department of] Homeland Security have left our borders wide open. That’s why people in America are freaking out.
“I would assume you don’t agree with a lot of things in [H.R. 2] either. But you know what it was? It’s the only piece of legislation that we actually have. It’s the perfect starting point, so for my colleagues on the other side who are talking about this magical piece of legislation, we have it. It’s H.R. 2, so let’s start there.”

Subcommittee on Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Protection Chairman Andrew Garbarino (R-NY) asked Secretary Mayorkas about the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency’s (CISA) work to further interagency harmonization for cyber incident reporting:
“CISA just released its notice of proposed rulemaking for the [Cyber Incident Reporting for Critical Infrastructure Act] CIRCIA rule. The budget requests $115, almost $116 million for its implementation, including staffing and technology. I have been in support of this CIRCIA rule, I think it could do great things for our cyber defense. But now, when you have competing rules like the [Securities and Exchange Commission] SEC [rule], which you yourself has said is duplicative, I don’t know if there’s a need for CIRCIA anymore because nobody is stopping the SEC from doing what they’re doing and it’s causing a huge problem. 
“CISA should oversee this, it’s under the Department of Homeland Security. I’d like to see more from the agency, yourself included, by pushing back on these duplicative rules, the SEC rule and others that are proposed. There is actually a report out there that bad actors are using the SEC rule as a way to hack more people. This is something that the administration is doing under the SEC, you have said before this rule is duplicative. We’ve been saying it’s bad, I think you need to go back and tell the president that this rule has to stop.”