House Republicans pressed Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on his failure to secure the U.S.-Mexico border during a roughly four-hour hearing Wednesday.
The Biden administration “violates the law under the guise of instituting safe, orderly, and humane policies,” Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, said at the start of the House Judiciary Committee hearing.
Lawmakers pressed Mayorkas on the number of illegal aliens that have been released into the interior of the U.S. since President Joe Biden took office, how many illegal aliens have been deported, the whereabouts of illegal aliens on America’s terrorist watch list, and whether Mayorkas previously lied to Congress.
What Is the Limit?
More than 2 million illegal aliens have been released into the interior of the U.S. since Biden took office, Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Calif., said during the hearing. He noted that this number is larger than the population of Nebraska.
“What is the limit, or is there one?” McClintock asked Mayorkas, referring to the number of illegal aliens that “should” be admitted into the U.S.
Mayorkas did not answer McClintock’s questions directly. He said, “last year, we expelled or removed approximately 1.4 million people who did not have a legal basis to remain in the United States, the largest number in recent history.”
The Center for Immigration Studies released a report in April that concludes the Biden administration has released 2,020,522 illegal aliens into the U.S. The report added that an additional “1.3 million known got-aways” have entered the U.S. interior during the Biden presidency.
How Many Illegal Aliens Sent Home?
Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz asked Mayorkas how many “of those 2 million-plus that you’ve encountered and released, how many have you told to go home?”
“Congressman, individuals who are released or placed in immigration enforcement proceedings under the law, where they can make their claim for relief, if their claim for relief is not satisfied, they are subject to removal from the United States,” Mayorkas said.
Gaetz interjected, pressing Mayorkas for the specific number of illegal aliens the Biden administration has deported among the more than 2 million who have been released into the U.S.
Gaetz criticized what he called the “Mayorkas doctrine,” the idea that “if you show up at the border and get released into the country, if you don’t commit a specific aggravated felony … you get to stay forever.”
“Is that a fair characterization of your doctrine?” the congressman asked.
“No, that is false,” Mayorkas said.
“Then tell me how many you’re sending home,” Gaetz shot back.
Jordan, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, later followed up on Gaetz’s question, again pressing Mayorkas on how many illegal aliens “went through the adjudication process and [have] actually been removed?”
Mayorkas said he would be happy to provide the congressman with the number but did not answer the question with a number.
Where Are Border Crossers on Terrorist Watch List?
Since fiscal year 2023 began on Oct. 1, 140 individuals on America’s terrorist watch list have been encountered at America’s borders, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., said.
Customs and Border Protection reports encountering 143 individuals on America’s terrorist watch list so far this fiscal year.
“Can you give us the whereabouts of those 140?” Issa asked Mayorkas. “Are they all incarcerated? Have they all been removed? Or is it a mixture of incarceration, removal, and release?” Issa questioned the DHS secretary.
Mayorkas was unable or unwilling to answer Issa’s question directly during the hearing, but told the California congressman he would “be pleased” to provide him with the information.
Did Mayorkas Lie?
In an April 2022 hearing, Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, asked Mayorkas, “Will you testify under oath right now, do we have operational control [of the border], yes or no?”
“Yes, we do,” Mayorkas responded.
The Secure Fence Act of 2006 defines operational control as “prevention of all unlawful entries into the United States, including entries by terrorists, other unlawful aliens, instruments of terrorism, narcotics, and other contraband.”
Later, Mayorkas testified before Congress that under the definition of the Secure Fence Act, no administration has ever had operational control of the border.
In March, Raul Ortiz, who at the time was chief of the U.S. Border Patrol, which is part of the Department of Homeland Security, testified before Congress that DHS does not have operational control the U.S. border.
During the hearing Wednesday, Roy asked Mayorkas why he ever claimed to have operational control of America’s borders.
Mayorkas said Roy did not let him complete his answer during the April hearing when he was questioned on whether the U.S. had operational control of the border. But Roy said Mayorkas did not hesitate to say “yes” when asked if he had operational control of the border.
“This is a pattern,” Roy said. “Did you lie another time when you said on Sept. 24, 2021, at a press conference, ‘We know that those images painfully conjured up the worst elements of our nation’s ongoing battle against systemic racism,’ when responding to the alleged whipping incident by the Border Patrol agents who report to you?”
Roy explained that it later came to light that Mayorkas was informed before the press conference that the photographer who took the images of the alleged “whipping” had observed no such activity. Instead, Border Patrol agents were using the reins on their horses to control the animals.
Who Is Responsible?
“Who’s responsible?” Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., asked Mayorkas, referring to the fentanyl flooding across America’s southern border, and pointing out that an estimated 13 people died from fentanyl poisoning since the start of Wednesday’s hearing, about a little over an hour prior to Biggs’ remarks.
“Is it you and your policies or is it President Biden?” he asked Mayorkas. He then answered his own question, saying Mayorkas did not want to answer because “you know it’s you, you know it’s your policies.”
CBP has seized a record 21,000 pounds of fentanyl at the southern border so far in fiscal year 2023, which ends Sept. 30, more than triple the total amount seized in all of fiscal year 2020.
“You seem to answer very eloquently all the questions that the other side of the aisle pose, but when posed with questions, specific questions about the border on this side of the aisle, … you seem to dance and dodge … the true answers,” Rep. Russell Fry, R-S.C., told Mayorkas.
Mayorkas told the committee multiple times he would be pleased to provide it with various numbers or pieces of information he appeared to not know or was unwilling to provide at the time.
Rep. Mike Johnson, R-La., also raised concerns over Mayorkas’ refusal to answer specific questions.
“I think you’re the most dishonest witness that has ever appeared before the Judiciary Committee,” Johnson said.
Since Biden took office, CBP has encountered more than 6.5 million illegal aliens on America’s borders. Since the start of fiscal year 2023, CBP has encountered more than 1.7 million illegal aliens on America’s southwest border alone.
Wednesday’s hearing comes a little over a month into the House Homeland Security Committee’s five-stage investigation into Mayorkas and his alleged “dereliction of duty.” The House Homeland Security Committee, chaired by Rep. Mark Green, R-Tenn., began the third stage of its investigation Wednesday afternoon with a subcommittee hearing examining the human cost of America’s border crisis.
The House Judiciary Committee has the authority to formally move forward with an impeachment against Mayorkas, but it is unclear if the committee will take that step, especially before the Homeland Security Committee finishes its investigation into DHS secretary.
In June, Homeland Security Committee member Clay Higgins, R-La., introduced articles of impeachment against Mayorkas.
“The Founders intended that impeachment of a senior executive should require clear evidence of intentional, repeated unconstitutional or illegal actions that bring measurable injury to our Republic,” Higgins said in a statement at the time. “Secretary Mayorkas has long ago crossed that threshold. His arrogant disregard for the security and sanctity of the American people has been shocking to behold.”
Higgins is not the first Republican to file articles of impeachment against Mayorkas.
Biggs introduced articles of impeachment against Mayorkas in August 2021, when he was chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus. In February, Biggs filed new articles of impeachment against Mayorkas, saying in a press release that Mayorkas “is the chief architect of the migration and drug invasion at our southern border.”
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