House Blasts Mayorkas for Ceding Control of Southern Border to Cartels
FAIR Take | July 2023
Last Wednesday, the House Homeland Security Committee released its first interim report on the ongoing investigation into Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Mayorkas. The report provides a significant update on the investigation, expanding and detailing evidence regarding the laws Mayorkas has abused, policies that are being used to circumvent laws, and false statements he has made.
The report was released following a committee hearing entitled “Biden and Mayorkas’ Open Border: Advancing Cartel Crime in America.” The hearing was part of the second phase of the Oversight Committee’s investigation into Secretary Mayorkas for dereliction of duty. The hearing examined how open-border policies implemented by Mayorkas have led to Mexican drug cartels assuming control along stretches of the southern border.
Throughout the hearing, members were highly critical of the Biden Administration and Mayorkas, pointing to the humanitarian crisis at the southern border that is now impacting Americans everywhere. In his opening statement, Chairman Green said, “violence and atrocities are not just being felt along the border – our American communities throughout the country are suffering as well. A lot of the violence can often be traced back to the cartels, because they often subcontract their mayhem to gangs that effectively function as the cartels’ national distribution network.”
Several members and witnesses honed in on drug trafficking, some sounding a bipartisan note. Retired DEA agent Derek Maltz said, “The current unprecedented fentanyl poisoning crisis that’s killing our kids at record levels is not a Red or Blue Issue. It’s a Red, White and Blue issue. We need all Americans to work together now to save lives.” The interim report echoed this concern, stating, “With fewer Border Patrol agents in the field, the cartels have seized the opportunity to move more people and drugs across the increasingly unguarded border.”
The Homeland Security Committee’s report stressed that the cartels are sophisticated actors that take advantage of Biden Administration policies, making it easier for them to operate. Committee leaders promised to fully lay out the evidence demonstrating that as the investigation continues. Under Mayorkas’ watch, fentanyl trafficking has risen sharply. Fentanyl overdoses are now a leading cause of death for adults 18-45, with overdoses rising from 18,499 in 2016 to 69,943 in 2021, the first year of the Biden Administration. So far in fiscal year 2023, a record 22,000 pounds of fentanyl has been seized coming across the border.
The report also highlights the cartels’ growing role in human trafficking and smuggling. Yet in January 2023, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) issued a new policy that prohibits Border Patrol agents from pursuing criminal aliens. The National Border Patrol Council (NBPC) has decried this new policy, stating “CBP’s new pursuit policy will empower human and drug smugglers while hindering Border Patrol agents’ ability to engage them….While Mayorkas has on one hand ‘urged’ individuals not to put themselves in the hands of the cartels and smugglers, in the same breath, he has encouraged these people to make use of so called ‘lawful, safe, and orderly pathways’ newly established by this administration, policies like the new mass parole programs and the CBP One policy.”
With the Homeland Security Committee entering phase three of its investigation, Mayorkas is set to appear before the House Judiciary Committee this Wednesday, July 26th. This Judiciary hearing will focus on the border crisis, lack of immigration enforcement, and operational failures facing DHS under Secretary Mayorkas. In advance of the hearing, Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) advised Mayorkas to be prepared for questions on CBP enforcement actions at the southern border and ICE arrests, removals, releases, and detention since January 20, 2021.