House Republicans, in the majority for the first time since Joe Biden was inaugurated, have wasted no time in launching much-needed oversight of the Biden administration’s failure to properly control the surge of illegal immigration at our nation’s borders.
Through multiple hearings in multiple committees over the coming weeks and months, these newly empowered congressmen will shine a spotlight on the human costs of the failure to control the border and on the policy changes that led to the surge. These hearings cannot happen fast enough.
The Judiciary Committee, under Chairman Jim Jordan, got the ball rolling this week, with a hearing that focused on explaining the backdrop — what is the real situation at the border? The hearing featured testimony from Cochise County, Arizona Sheriff Mark Dannels, who testified that “Our southern border, against all public comfort statements out of Washington, D.C., is in the worst shape I have ever seen it … our southern border is the largest crime scene in the country.”
I’ve been to the border in Cochise County with Sheriff Dannels. He’s had almost four decades of experience serving our border communities, the last 11 years of which he’s served as Cochise County’s elected sheriff. He’s shown me where he and his deputies have engaged and apprehended illegal immigrants and drug and human traffickers. He’s right: our southern border is the largest crime scene in the country.
Sheriff Dannels’ testimony is crucial.
He pointed out the “These aren’t the ‘droids you seek, move along” “public comfort statements” that have been coming out of the Biden administration in its attempt to cover up how bad it is at the border — for example, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas’ repeated assertions, despite all evidence to the contrary, that the border is secure; Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg’s attempt to shut down FOX News drone coverage of thousands of illegal immigrants massing underneath a bridge in Del Rio, Texas; Vice President Kamala Harris’ word salad declaration on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that the border is secure: “We have a secure border in that that is a priority for any nation, including ours and our administration;” and the effort to remove illegal immigrants from the streets they’d been sleeping on before the arrival of President Biden in El Paso, Texas, last month.
The Judiciary Committee hearing also included testimony from Brandon Dunn, the father of a 15-year-old boy who tragically died last year as the result of a fentanyl overdose.
Meanwhile, the Oversight and Accountability Committee, under Chairman James Comer, will examine the crisis on the southern border from a different angle: “On the Front Lines of the Border Crisis: A Hearing with Chief Patrol Agents,” scheduled for Feb. 7, will feature testimony from two Chief Patrol Agents — one from the Rio Grande Valley Sector of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the other from CBP’s Tucson Sector.
Chairman Comer wanted to hear directly from Border Patrol sector chiefs, and originally invited four of them to testify, so he and his committee could gather information from front-line officials. But the Department of Homeland Security balked at that and refused to allow the four to testify.
Comer had to follow up with a not-so-veiled threat – allow his invited witnesses to testify, or he would be “forced to consider the use of the compulsory process,” a euphemism for issuing subpoenas to compel testimony.
DHS relented and agreed to allow two Border Patrol section chiefs to testify.
The Oversight and Accountability Committee hearing will offer Republicans an opportunity to examine the “why” of the border crisis — to wit, “Why is this happening?”
It will be an interesting exercise. The two witnesses — both of whom are senior executives, tasked with significant leadership and management responsibility in their particular geographic sectors – are in a position to explain what policy changes occurred when the Biden administration took over from the previous administration.
Beginning on Day One, Biden sent a different message: No more border wall. No more “Remain in Mexico” policy. No more use of Title 42. Instead, he hung out the “Welcome!” sign.
Changes there were, and the results are evident.
According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s own figures on border “encounters” — what you or I would call “apprehensions” — the number of illegal immigrants apprehended trying to cross our border was relatively steady through 2020, with a monthly average of about 38,000 apprehensions.
The surge didn’t wait for Biden to take office in January 2021. It began in the immediate aftermath of the November 2020 election. Monthly encounters rose from 57,674 in September 2020 to 78,414 in January 2021 to 101,099 in February 2021 to 173,277 in March 2021 to 213,593 in July 2021.
The monthly average for 2021 was 144,557, about four times the monthly average from the previous year.
The surge continued through 2022, getting worse by the month. The monthly average for 2022 was 198,245, about five times the monthly average from the last year of the previous administration.
But now the Republicans control the gavels in the People’s House, and they aim to use them to expose what the Biden administration has been up to.
What a difference an election makes. Thank you, Chairman Jordan, and thank you, Chairman Comer. More please, and plenty of it!
Jenny Beth Martin is Honorary Chairman of Tea Party Patriots Action.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Daily Caller News Foundation.
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