During a Senate committee hearing Tuesday, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas couldn’t answer a question about how many illegal immigrants federal authorities have released into the U.S. interior under the Biden administration.

Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., pressed Mayorkas on the issue, but the DHS secretary couldn’t provide a number at Tuesday’s Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing. Illegal immigration at the southern border of the U.S. has surged past 2 million in both fiscal year 2022, the highest year on record, and 2023, according to federal data.


An inspector general report in September found that DHS lacks the ability to track all illegal immigrants released from its custody into the U.S. interior, partially because of the overwhelming surge at U.S. borders.

“I’ve asked you this in the past, what numbers are represented here? How many people has this administration let in by encountering, processing, dispersing or that come in as a known or an unknown ‘gotaway’? Approximately, I don’t need an exact number, so what do we got?” Johnson asked Mayorkas.

“Senator, let me say,” Mayorkas responded before being interrupted by Johnson.

“I need numbers. Don’t filibuster me. How many people has this administration let into the country?” Johnson continued.

Mayorkas began speaking before Johnson again interrupted him for not providing a clear number.

“Let me say at the outset that our job would be a lot easier if the broken immigration system … ” Mayorkas responded.

“Mr. Secretary, I want a number. How many people will have you let into this country? I’ll give you the number, it’s about 6 million, about 1.7 million as known gotaways. Now, again, we don’t know who these people are. We just know that they’ve come to this country and that they’re residing somewhere. Where are all these people residing? Where did the 6 million people go?” Johnson asked.

Border Patrol doesn’t have the ability to always collect migrants’ addresses, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement doesn’t always validate the addresses before they’re released into the country, the inspector general previously found. Between March 2021 and August 2022, Border Patrol collected 981,671 migrant records, but more than 177,000 migrant records “were either missing, invalid for delivery, or not legitimate residential locations.”

Mayorkas began to attempt to answer Johnson again, but still could not provide a direct response.

“Senator, you speak of encounters, and let me share,” Mayorkas said before Johnson interrupted.

“Would you answer my questions? Where did these 6 million people go? Are you keeping track of them? To what extent [do] we have a handle on where are these 6 million people are in America?” Johnson asked.

Mayorkas continued to attempt to answer Johnson’s questions.

“As you well know, when an individual is indeed released, they are released into immigration enforcement proceedings and are subject to removal if they do not have a legal basis to remain in the United States,” the DHS chief said.

“You’re not answering that question. Where do these people reside?” Johnson asked.

Originally published by the Daily Caller News Foundation

Have an opinion about this article? To sound off, please email letters@DailySignal.com, and we’ll consider publishing your edited remarks in our regular “We Hear You” feature. Remember to include the URL or headline of the article plus your name and town and/or state.