A Florida Republican criticized Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas during testimony on Tuesday after the DHS chief failed to provide information for the second day in a row regarding the number of migrants who have been released into the country after crossing illegally into the U.S. since January after President Joe Biden took office and reversed his predecessor’s border enforcement policies.
Rep. Carlos Gimenez, a member of the House Homeland Security Committee, began his questioning of Mayorkas by reading from a letter sent to Senate leaders by former Border Patrol chief Rodney Scott on Sept. 11, who warned that an “unprecedented seismic shift in border security and immigration policy” is what has “created the current border crisis.”
“The Biden administration’s team at DHS is laser-focused on expediting the flow of migrants into the U.S. and downplaying the significant vulnerability this creates for terrorists, narcotics smugglers, human traffickers, and even hostile nations to gain access to our homeland,” Scott noted.
“Low level, unsophisticated and uneducated smugglers are illegally crossing the border and increasingly evading apprehension daily,” he warned. “To think that well-resourced terrorist networks, criminal organizations, and hostile nations are not doing the same is naive.”
“The experienced civil service staff within CBP, ICE and DHS have provided multiple options to reduce the illegal entries and reestablish some semblance of border security through proven programs and consequences, yet every recommendation has been summarily rejected,” Scott wrote.
“[DHS] Secretary [Alejandro] Mayorkas is choosing to ignore the sound recommendations of career government leadership despite his own admissions that he agrees with them,” the former Border Patrol chief added.
“As I stated up front, it is my professional assessment that transnational criminal organizations (TCO), and other more dangerous actors are increasingly exploiting identified border security vulnerabilities,” Scott added. “The threats are real, and the situation is unsustainable, yet the current administration refuses to take any meaningful action.”
Moving into questioning, Gimenez said that Scott’s letter is a “scathing indictment” of Mayorkas as well as the Biden administration’s “handling of the border” before asking the DHS chief for the number of illegal immigrants have been apprehended at the border this year.
In response, Mayorkas first said “I respectfully disagree” with Scott’s assessment before stating that apprehensions for the year are between 1.2 and 1.5 million people. The secretary then suggested that a decline in the number of encounters in August was due to better enforcement.
But Gimenez suggested that the only reason enforcement increased in August was due to polling indicating that Americans are increasingly fed up with the mass infiltration of the country’s southwest border.’
“That’s not accurate,” Mayorkas shot back as Gimenez pressed on, asking the DHS chief for specific numbers of migrants who have been returned to their home countries, detained in the U.S., and released inside the country.
Mayorkas said he didn’t have those numbers at hand but would get them to Gimenez at a later date, which is the same thing he told Sen. Ron Johnson during testimony before the Senate on Tuesday.
“Yesterday you were asked exactly the same question, and you gave exactly the same answer,” the Florida Republican said. “You’d think you’d be a little better prepared now that you’ve been asked that question. … You don’t have that information?”
“Oh, congressman, let me share something with you quite clearly,” a testy Mayorkas shot back. “I work 18 hours a day. Okay? So when I returned from yesterday’s hearing, I actually focused on mission. We will get that data both to the senator who posed it yesterday, and to you, congressman, today.”
“So you don’t have any estimation at all of the numbers that I’m asking for?” Gimenez replied.
“Congressman, I wanna be precise in my communication of data to the United States Congress and to you specifically,” Mayorkas said.
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