Chairman Green Delivers Remarks at Rules Committee Hearing on H.R. 2, Secure The Border Act of 2023
WASHINGTON, D.C. — House Committee on Homeland Security Chairman Mark E. Green, MD (R-TN) delivered the following remarks during a House Committee on Rules hearing considering H.R. 2, the Secure the Border Act of 2023.
Watch Chairman Green’s remarks in a House Rules Committee hearing on H.R. 2, the Secure the Border Act of 2023
Chairman Cole, Ranking Member McGovern, and Members of the Committee, thank you for this opportunity to testify on H.R. 2, the Secure the Border Act of 2023.
There is now absolutely no doubt to any American paying attention that we are in the midst of a severe border crisis. In just over two years, President Biden and Secretary Mayorkas have turned the border into a place of chaos and devastation, a place where cartels are now in control. Since the Biden Administration took office, there have been over 5 million encounters at the Southwest border, 1.4 million known gotaways, and estimates of an additional 20% of gotaways that have gone unaccounted.
The numbers paint a horrifying picture, but if you look deeper, it gets even more worse. In just the first six months of this fiscal year, 80 people on the terrorist watchlist were stopped trying to cross the U.S.-Mexico border between ports of entry, Border Patrol arrested over 15,000 individuals with criminal convictions, and 14,000 pounds of fentanyl has been seized – enough to kill over 3.1 billion people. That’s enough to kill more than a third of this world—or the entire U.S. population nine times over.
Sadly, the true number of cartel and gang members, other criminals, and trafficked persons, as well as the quantity of illicit drugs that have all crossed our borders will never be fully known. But what we do know is staggering. Given these facts, it is imperative that Congress take the necessary steps to ensure that the laws passed by this body are enforced, our borders are secure, and the American people are safe.
I am honored to be here with Chairman Jordan and Chairman McCaul as we work toward that goal in the Secure the Border Act. Each of our committees has worked tirelessly over the past several months to craft this legislation, doing so through regular order. The Committee on Homeland Security’s markup two weeks ago extended over 16 hours and considered over 40 amendments. I’m grateful to every Republican member of the Committee who worked tirelessly to craft our part of this bill.
H.R. 2 addresses the immediate impact of the crisis by focusing on mitigating and stopping the surge of illegal aliens and drugs flowing across the U.S. borders, mainly between ports of entry. This bill requires the Secretary of Homeland Security to use previously appropriated but unexpired funding to immediately resume construction of the border wall.
It also makes targeted investments in border technology by deploying the most effective technology available, such as advanced surveillance sensors and drones, and requires a five-year technology investment plan to provide an analysis of security risks and capability gaps at and between ports of entry.
This bill also demands transparency from DHS by requiring monthly reporting of critical border security data, including the number of known gotaways and known or suspected terrorists. The American people expect this type of transparency.
It also authorizes and increases Operation Stonegarden grants to support state and local law enforcement, who are bearing the brunt of this crisis as the federal government continues to fail in its mission.
Lastly, the bill addresses the major staffing challenge at U.S. Border Patrol, which was just recently highlighted in a DHS Inspector General report laying out how the unsustainable conditions at our Southwest border are negatively impacting the health and morale of our frontline law enforcement.
Our brave Border Patrol agents, whose frustrations grow daily as they are pulled off the frontline to act as processing coordinators, are leaving at an increasing rate, and are greatly struggling with mental health.
To address these issues, this bill includes retention bonuses for those frontline agents, mandates no fewer than 22,000 full-time equivalent agents, and also provides polygraph waiver authority for hiring flexibility.
These are just a few of the highlights of this critical legislation. We must have effective physical infrastructure and additional border patrol agents on the frontline to address these growing threats. Combined with the important elements led by the Judiciary and Foreign Affairs Committees, this bill is a major step in tackling these challenges and delivering for the American people. Left unaddressed, the border crisis will continue to spiral out of control.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman for the opportunity to testify today. I look forward to the Committee’s questions and I yield back.