Democrats Skip House Border Hearing Again
FAIR Take | March 2023
Despite pleas for bipartisanship and pledges to work to secure our border, not one Democrat showed up to Wednesday’s field hearing of the House Homeland Security Committee in McAllen, Texas.
That no-show at yesterday’s hearing, designed to examine the unprecedented crisis at our southern border follows another field hearing on the border held by the House Judiciary Committee last month in Yuma, Arizona, which Democrats also elected not to attend.
According to a Republican spokesperson, before backing out of Wednesday’s hearing, Democrats booked travel and even arranged for testimony from Steven Cagan, assistant director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). For all intents and purposes, Democrats seemed to be planning on attending, until suddenly they weren’t.
Committee Chairman Mark Green (R-Fla.) called Democrats’ decision not to attend “deeply disappointing,” adding that “[t]he only message their absence sends is that they are uninterested in coming to the table to have a conversation about the devastation that this border crisis is having on Americans and their communities across the country.”
Testifying under oath at that hearing, U.S. Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz admitted the obvious: that the federal government does not have “operational control” of our borders. His testimony directly contradicts numerous assertions made by Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas that our borders are secure.
Even more disturbing about Chief Ortiz’s testimony was his admission that operational control – a statutorily defined standard that DHS is obligated to meet – is not even a goal under the Biden administration. Instead, Chief Ortiz stated that the Border Patrol’s “new strategy is geared towards mission advantage,” or, more simply, that they have no defined strategy.
Chief Ortiz also admitted that, in addition to the nearly 6 million aliens who have been apprehended entering the country illegally since President Biden came to office, the number of people who have eluded capture is significantly higher than has been reported, as is the amount of fentanyl that has been smuggled across the southern border.
The flood of migrants shows no signs of slowing, with border encounter figures released yesterday by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) bringing the total number of encounters through the first five months of fiscal year 2023 to more than one million, along with more than 385,000 confirmed “gotaways.” According to CBP:
- There were 212,226 encounters in February 2023, up approximately 2% from 208,511 in January 2023.
- Nearly three quarters of those encounters were single adults and 25% were repeat encounters, with encounters of unaccompanied children also increasing by 16% when compared to January.
- Nearly 60% of those expelled were removed under Title 42 authority, currently scheduled to end on May 11.
The number of border encounters is exacerbated by the number of people applying for and receiving approval to enter the country under the unlawful parole programs created by Secretary Mayorkas. As noted previously, the Biden Administration is using a shell game to mask the border crisis, using parole authority that violates both the spirit and the letter of the law, which requires that it be exercised only on a case-by-case basis and in some compelling national interest.
Since inauguration day, the Biden administration has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to an open border policy and has refused to enforce immigration laws on the books, overburdening critical infrastructure and leaving border communities to fend for themselves.
Yesterday’s hearing was another chance to discuss solutions to the border crisis, and it’s unfortunate that some boycotted the hearing as if it were political theater. Protecting American citizens from illegal narcotics, fentanyl poisoning, and cartel violence should not be a partisan issue. FAIR expects Congress to take steps to secure the border and combat illegal immigration as our Nation simply cannot withstand the damage being done to our sovereignty, security, and well-being.