Chairman Green on the House Floor: “The American People Have Had Enough”
Delivers remarks in support of the Secure the Border Act of 2023, H.R. 2
I rise in strong support of H.R. 2, the Secure the Border Act of 2023. Last year, Republicans made a Commitment to America to secure our borders, protect our nation, and safeguard our communities. Today, House Republicans are delivering on that promise.
No matter where you sit on the political spectrum, it is undeniable that we are in the midst of a severe border crisis.
In just over two years, President Biden and Secretary Mayorkas have intentionally turned our nation’s borders into a place of chaos and devastation – one controlled by the cartels. The administration’s refusal to enforce the law or implement effective policies to secure the border has led us to this point – completely dismantling any semblance of law and order.
Over the past several months, the Members of the Committee on Homeland Security have been hard at work crafting a solution to address the administration’s self-inflicted crisis at our borders.
With input from our colleagues across the Republican Conference, as well as Border Patrol agents, victims of illegal alien crime and the drug crisis, small business owners, state and local law enforcement, and farmers and ranchers, the Committee has taken the time to fully understand Secretary Mayorkas’ record-breaking humanitarian crisis.
These are the everyday Americans bearing the brunt of this crisis who are all too often overlooked by the media and the D.C. Beltway.
The numbers that they, and now all Americans, are facing are staggering: More than 5 million encounters at the Southwest border since President Biden took office; Over 1.4 million known ‘gotaways’ since February 2021; 193 aliens on the terrorist watchlist encountered along the Southwest border trying to enter the country between ports of entry from FY 2021 to FY 2023; Over 14,000 pounds of fentanyl seized in FY 2023—enough to kill the entire U.S. population over nine and a half times; Over 61,000 criminal aliens arrested by CBP attempting to cross the U.S. borders since the beginning of FY 2021.
And just as we think it can’t get any worse, tomorrow marks the end of the only tool that Customs and Border Protection has left under this administration—Title 42. As we’ve approached the end to Title 42 the past few days, CBP has been reporting an even greater increase in the number of alien encounters and gotaways, which are already off the charts.
Whether my colleagues on the other side want to admit it or not, Mr. Biden and Mr. Mayorkas’ border crisis has turned every state into a border state—and the American people have had enough.
From a record number of fentanyl deaths to rising crime, it is the families and communities across America that are left to pay the price of the administration’s open borders and anti-security policies. These policies are enriching and emboldening transnational criminal organizations, who have increasingly threatened the safety and security of all Americans.
But we are here with a solution – thanks to the hard work of many members across multiple committees. H.R. 2 requires the administration to secure the border, enforce the law, and reduce illegal immigration once again.
Specifically, Division A of the bill addresses the immediate impact of the border crisis by focusing on mitigating and stopping the surge of illegal border crossers and illicit drugs that are flowing across our borders between ports of entry.
Over 30 years ago, the United States government began building the border barrier system. We have heard from frontline agents on the ground that an effective border barrier system is a proven critical component in deterring and discouraging illegal activity. That is why H.R. 2 directs the Secretary of Homeland Security to immediately resume construction of the border wall. The bill requires at least 900 miles of wall to be built – using the materials that American taxpayers have already paid for but, under President Biden, are laying unused and left to deteriorate in the desert.
This bill makes targeted investments in border technology that not only supplements the border wall system but also integrates new, advanced, and improved technologies into Border Patrol operations that will prioritize frontline personnel safety and the detection of illicit activity.
We know that Border Patrol agents are leaving at a faster rate than the CBP Commissioner can hire. Under the Biden administration, Border Patrol agents are stretched thin both physically and mentally. They are overwhelmed and overworked.
Custom and Border Protection agents are leaving before reaching their retirement eligibility because of poor working conditions and low moral due to a horrendous lack of support from the Biden administration and the inability to do what they signed up to do – enforce the law.
During the Committee’s field hearing on March 15, Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz testified that he needs approximately 22,000 agents to achieve Border Patrol’s mission. H.R. 2 mandates CBP expand their force by over 3,000 agents to reach that total of 22,000 agents.
The bill also aims to return agents back to their law enforcement duties in the field by ensuring they are not responsible for serving as processing coordinators—something that the Biden administration is forcing highly trained law enforcement agents to do.
The bill addresses the retention challenges that Border Patrol is facing by providing qualified agents with a retention bonus. They need to know that all of us in Congress have their back and appreciate their sacrifice.
The Department of Homeland Security has made very blatant attempts to bury the release of its monthly border statistics or withhold certain information from the public. That is why H.R. 2 requires DHS to publicly disclose all monthly data, including known gotaways and known or suspected terrorists, before the seventh day of each month.
Congress will not tolerate this administration’s lack of transparency to the American people, who deserve to know who and what is coming into our country.
To further enhance border security measures, this bill increases support for Operation Stonegarden, a grant program that provides funds to state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies that are forced to deal directly with this crisis given the administration’s complete dereliction of duty. Under H.R. 2, Operation Stonegarden grants will be increased to $110 million per year and we know this support can’t come soon enough for our state and local law enforcement. I urge my colleagues to support H.R. 2.