Chairman Green Delivers Opening Remarks in Hearing with Secretary Mayorkas on the Biden Administration’s FY 2024 Budget Proposal
WASHINGTON,D.C. – House Committee on Homeland Security Chairman Mark E. Green, MD (R-TN) delivered the following opening remarks in a hearing to examine the Biden administration’s Fiscal Year 2024 budget proposal for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
Watch Chairman Green’s full opening statement in a hearing entitled, “A Review of the Fiscal Year 2024 Budget Request for the Department of Homeland Security.”
The full hearing is livestreamed here.
As prepared for delivery:
Good morning, Secretary Mayorkas. Thanks for joining the Committee. We look forward to hearing from you as we discuss the Department’s budget and the crisis this administration has created at our Southwest border.
This year we recognize the Department’s 20th anniversary and thank the many public servants, past and present, who have worked tirelessly to keep our homeland safe.
In the aftermath of 9/11, the Department was created to “safeguard the American people.” This mission includes “securing the U.S. Borders and Approaches.”
Mr. Secretary, you took an oath of office, where you swore to: “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic,” and to“well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office.”
Your job IS to protect the homeland—and one of those obvious duties is to secure the United States’ sovereign borders, and to implement the laws duly passed by Congress.
However, you have not secured our borders—and Mr. Secretary, I believe you have done so intentionally. There is no other explanation for the systematic dismantling and transformation of our border into a lawless and dangerous open border. You’ve asserted in the past it is an issue of resources. But the numbers show a very different story. In just the two years of your tenure, more people have crossed our southern border into the United States than the previous twelve years of two administrations combined. Did the budget suddenly decrease and result in this massive surge? No.
Did the number of border agents suddenly get cut in January of 2021? No. What got cut were 89 effective policies. As Chief Ortiz told us in our hearing in McAllen, “we don’t have a resource crisis, we have a policy crisis.”
We will fulfill our obligation to the American people and our oath to the Constitution. Secretary Mayorkas, need I remind you that Congress makes the laws, and the executive branch is obligated to follow the laws?
Apparently, the answer to that question is yes because since you became Secretary, you have disregarded the laws written by this branch of government, laws passed by both Republicans and Democrats. Behind me, you can see a list of the ways you’ve made our border and our country less secure. You intentionally:
Ended all construction of and contracts to build the border wall system; Attempted to terminate the “Migrant Protection Protocols – Remain in Mexico Policy,” and when these efforts failed you refused to fully enforce the policy; Illegally and without Congressional approval created mass-parole programs for countries such as Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Venezuela, and expanded the use of the CBP One App to facilitate these programs. This is ultimately playing a shell game wherein those who would otherwise come illegally, with no justification for entry, now get to enter under the pretense of legality; Lowered credible fear standards, so even illegal border crossers, who have broken the laws of the United States, can claim asylum, despite knowing that 9 out of 10 claims will be found illegitimate; Instructed ICE agents not to detain or deport the vast majority of individuals illegally in the country, while also stating that the crime of being in the country illegally is by itself no longer grounds for removal; Refused to detain illegal aliens pursuant to the Immigration and Nationality Act, and instead allowed them to be processed en masse into the United States; Moved Northern border agents to the Southwestern border, leaving our Northern border vulnerable which has led to an increase in encounters; and finally Ended Title 42 in May without a plan to deal with the surge.
What has that gotten us? Here, behind me, you can see the results.
Unfortunately, the facts are overwhelming: More than 5 million encounters at the Southwest border since President Biden took office; 1.4 million known ‘gotaways’ who evaded U.S. Border Patrol agents since President Bident took office. And these are only the ones we know about. We learned from U.S. Border Patrol Chief Ortiz that these numbers are likely 20% higher; 80 individuals on the terrorist watchlist across the Southwest border so far in FY23; 14,148 pounds of fentanyl seized in FY2023—enough to kill the entire U.S. population—the population you swore to protect—over nine and a half times. And this is only the amount we know about. We have no idea how much of this poison is actually being brought into the country by drug smugglers, taking advantage of our porous border.
Last month, this Committee held a hearing in McAllen, where Chief Ortiz stated under oath that DHS does not have operational control of our borders, contradicting testimony that you previously gave before this Committee.
Chief Ortiz went on to say that 5 of our 9 sectors are under the control of the drug cartels. Unbelievable.
Secretary Mayorkas, your reckless border policies are enriching drug cartels, and these cartels are laughing in our face. They find it amusing that the most powerful nation on earth is not only unwilling to stop them but is actively facilitating their business model.
Unfortunately, your admission during the March 28, 2023, Senate Judiciary hearing that you are unaware cartels are using illegal aliens as decoys to distract Border Patrol agents while they smuggle illicit contraband and illegal aliens across the border emboldens these cartels. Honestly, your admission reflects incompetence. Imagine a general who has no clue about the strategy of the enemy. We’d fire that general on the spot.
Mr. Secretary, every time you fail to acknowledge this is a crisis, you lose even more credibility with the men and women of DHS—to say nothing of the American public.
As you ignore the crisis at our border, thousands of Border Patrol agents and CBP officers are on the frontlines putting their lives at risk to keep our country safe.
And what kind of treatment do they receive from you? They are accused of whipping migrants crossing the border illegally.
And now we find out your Department knew the whole time that these reports were bogus. You went on national television and vilified these agents of the Horse Patrol Unit.
These men and women are proud to fulfill their duty to secure our border, and they do this with no thanks, no support, and no recognition from your administration. This is downright shameful.
I don’t blame our Border Patrol agents for feeling the way they do about you. As a former Army officer, doctor, and CEO, I know that when a leader loses the trust of those he is entrusted with to command and serve, it’s over.
Now, let’s turn our attention to your Budget Proposal for DHS.
Mr. Secretary, this budget proposal is an insult to every American. It fails to take seriously many of our most pressing national security threats, especially our wide-open border.
President Biden himself likes to use the quote: “Don’t tell me what you value, show me your budget, and I’ll tell you what you value.” This budget clearly shows us what this administration values, and it is not the safety of the American people.
Like your past budgets, policy decisions, and actions, this proposed DHS budget has the singular purpose of continuing to encourage people to come to this country illegally. Here behind me, you can see this clearly. DHS: Pet projects, $4 plus billion, CBP decreased, $1.2 billion, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, $1.1 billion, ICE decreased, $421 million.
The objective of this budget is not to secure the border, but to force CBP personnel to process illegal aliens quicker into the interior of the United States.
The proposed $4.7 billion “Southwest Border Contingency Fund” is another gimmick to spend American taxpayer dollars on a crisis you and President Biden created, with a goal of processing illegal aliens quicker out of DHS custody so that they can settle into the interior of our country.
The administration is saying the quiet part out loud: By requesting funding for ‘border management’ instead of ‘border security,’ you are signaling you have no intention of securing our borders.
Instead of spending any money on wall construction that would actually have both a practical and deterrent impact, the administration has proposed spending $3.9 billion for a DHS “climate resilience program.” Meanwhile, you propose spending a mere additional $40 million to combat the fentanyl crisis devastating this nation.
Do you think the parents and families who will continue to lose their children, their brothers and sisters, to fentanyl will take comfort in knowing DHS at least added more to the massive money already spent by this administration on climate change? Of course not.
Mr. Secretary, I could go on and on, but I will yield. I do hope you have come here today, ready to be honest with the American people, because if you are bold enough to make these policy decisions, you should be brave enough to own up to them and their consequences.