Higgins Opening Statement in Remain in Mexico Policy Hearing
WASHINGTON, DC – Rep. Clay Higgins (R-LA), Ranking Member of the Border Security, Facilitation, and Operations Subcommittee, delivered the following opening statement in a subcommittee hearing entitled, “Examining the Court-Ordered Reimplementation of the Remain in Mexico Policy.”
Ranking Member Higgins’ Opening Statement (as prepared for delivery)
Thank you, Madam Chair, and thank you for having today’s hearing. Since the start of the 117th Congress, the Border Security, Facilitation, and Operations Subcommittee has held four hearings yet the Subcommittee has not held a single hearing that directly addresses border security until today. Since January 2021 and under President Biden’s leadership, there have been over 2.1 million border encounters at our southwest border and the number continues to rise.
I would like to thank our federal government partners for being here today; although, I am disappointed to hear that our federal partners requested to testify on a federal-government-only panel, thereby excluding our minority witness from the conversation. I believe it is important for our federal partners to hear directly from the state and local governments, especially the border states, how the Administration policies are impacting their states.
One year into President Biden’s term, we have witnessed the total disintegration of law and order at the southern border. Democrat policies have turned America’s border into a porous superhighway for crime, drugs, and human smuggling into our communities and neighborhoods. It is abundantly clear that Secretary Mayorkas, the Biden White House, and the Democrats in Congress have zero intent to support frontline agents with the necessary policies and resources to restore operational control at the border.
Instead of arresting and prosecuting those who violate our laws, CBP enforcement personnel have been hamstrung from doing their jobs. This crisis at our southwest border could have been avoided if this Administration were to aggressively enforce the laws in place and kept key Trump-era security policies fully intact.
Since the President took office, not counting the rising number of gotaways, encounters surpassed 150,000 for the eleventh month straight. These record numbers stem from the Biden administration’s failure to 1) secure the border and 2) discourage illegal immigration to the United States. The current crisis is a direct result of Biden’s actions, including:
- suspension of border wall construction
- implementation of executive action aimed at halting deportations
- re-instituting the failed Obama-era prosecutorial discretion policy
- the attempt to end the Migrant Protection Protocols
- and expanding large-scale catch and release.
The crisis this Administration has created could have been averted or stopped at any time, and still can be, if the Biden Administration fully reimplements common-sense policies like MPP.
The MPP program, also known as the “Remain in Mexico” policy, was originally initiated in January 2019 under the Trump Administration. When MPP was first introduced, the United States returned to Mexico certain non-Mexican citizens and foreign nationals, while their removal proceedings were pending. This program was successful, resulting in decreased illegal border crossings, which enabled the U.S. Border Patrol to actually patrol our southwest border and remove almost 70,000 illegal migrants from our country.
This crisis is not just about migrants seeking asylum in the United States; unfortunately, criminals, including murderers and child predators, weapons, and drugs are also flowing across our border. According to a DHS official, since October 2021, there were over 220,000 documented cases of illegal aliens who were deemed “gotaways.”
Criminals and drug cartels are benefitting the most from the Biden administration’s border failures. According to a report by the federal Commission on Combating Synthetic Opioid Trafficking, Mexico is now the dominant source of fentanyl supply to the United States. Just this past year alone, CBP has seized over $760,000,000 worth of fentanyl, and this is barely making a dent. For example, it has been reported that overdose is now the leading cause of death for Americans aged 18 to 45 years old. This should be a wake-up call for the Biden Administration to end the madness.
The reimplementation of the MPP program can provide CBP the assistance it needs as it attempts to resecure our nation’s borders. In August 2021, a federal court required the Biden Administration to reimplement the MPP program in good faith, but there has been no evidence of any good faith effort. In addition to Secretary Mayorkas openly seeking to terminate the MPP program for a second time despite the court order, there was an average of only 13 individuals per day being enrolled into the program in January 2022. To put that in perspective, in the same timeframe in January 2022, CBP had an average of almost 5,000 encounters per day at the southwest border.
No one could call this a good faith effort.
I want to hear more about this Administration’s plan to reimplement the court-ordered MPP program in genuine good faith. We cannot let politics get in the way of sound governing or ignoring constitutional obligations. I look forward to the witnesses’ testimony today and I thank them for appearing before us.
I yield back.