Senators Grill Mayorkas over Border Crisis; Scrutinize Biden’s Request for More Money
FAIR Take | November 2023
Last Wednesday, the Senate Appropriations Committee held a hearing to review the President’s supplemental budget request for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). That emergency measure asks for $13.6 billion to fund the same open-borders policies, implemented by Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, that have created chaos at the border and wreaked havoc on American cities nationwide. Throughout the hearing, Senators expressed concern over the effectiveness of policies that would be funded by authorizing additional money and pressed Mayorkas on the worsening border crisis.
Of the $13.6 billion requested by the President, nearly $5 billion is designated for Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to help process and transport illegal aliens along the southern border, and to support nonprofit organizations (NGOs) that provide shelter and services to illegal aliens.
Additionally, $2.54 billion requested by the Biden Administration would be directed to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to hire criminal investigators, attorneys and support staff. Senator Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.) zeroed in on this funding for ICE during the hearing and pointed to language in the Administration’s supplemental request that would allow the Secretary of Homeland Security to reprogram any amount of ICE funding to non-law enforcement activities, such as providing legal, medical and therapeutic services for illegal aliens. Secretary Mayorkas denied any intention to defund ICE, though if enacted, that language would allow the DHS Secretary to do precisely that, and cripple immigration enforcement in the United States.
The supplemental request also includes $755 million for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), which processes legal immigration benefits and asylum claims. That money is specifically geared towards hiring additional personnel. Senator John Kennedy (R-La.) noted that around 71% of aliens coming across the southern border are not from Mexico and pressed Mayorkas on his role in that growing backlog of asylum cases. Almost immediately after entering office, President Biden suspended Asylum Cooperative Agreements (ACAs) with El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras to require migrants traveling through those countries to first seek asylum there. Since then, the number of asylum claims has skyrocketed, with many cases adjudicated years after the aliens arrive in the U.S.
Secretary Mayorkas also faced questions on the Biden Administration’s use of immigration parole to create category-based programs allowing in hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens. In an exchange with Senator Lindsey Graham (R -S.C.), Mayorkas claimed that DHS had, in fact, completed individualized, case-by-case determinations, as required by Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) 212(d)(5), of all 240,000 aliens who entered the United States under parole in FY23. In that exchange, Mayorkas stated that he could provide those individualized determinations, and Graham requested that they be produced.
It was clear from the congressional hearing that some Members of Congress are skeptical of providing the Secretary with additional funding to continue his open-borders agenda that prioritizes illegal aliens over American citizens. Rather than continuing to promote the status quo, Congress must ensure that any spending package includes meaningful policy changes to detain illegal aliens crossing our borders, end asylum abuse, and stop mass parole.
To read more and see FAIR’s toolkit on DHS appropriations, click here.