Mayorkas has Faith in his Integrity, Congress Questions his Competence
FAIR Take | April 2023
Last week, Department of Homeland (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas testified in three congressional hearings – Tuesday in an oversight hearing for the Senate Judiciary Committee and Wednesday in House and Senate Appropriations Committee hearings on President Biden’s 2024 budget proposal.
Facing calls for his resignation and critical questions from Republicans on the southern border crisis, Mayorkas claimed “to have unflinching confidence in the integrity of [his] conduct.”
In his opening statement for the Senate Judiciary hearing, Ranking Member Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-N.C.) pointed out that, under Mayorkas’ watch, the southern border has gone from the lowest number of crossings in December 2020 to record highs today, along with record amounts of fentanyl and terrorist suspects coming into the United States.
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) compared the CBP One mobile application used to schedule appointments and request humanitarian parole and asylum to “a concierge service for illegal immigrants.” He went on to say that “rather than building a wall, Mr. Secretary, you have built Ticketmaster for illegal immigrants.”
In another exchange with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Mayorkas stated that he did not to recognize wristbands abandoned along the border, which cartels commonly use for human smuggling and trafficking. The wristbands act as a sort of registration system, with different colors and patterns denoting the cartel responsible, how many times a person has attempted to cross, and how much they owe that cartel. Visibly frustrated, Cruz called Mayorkas “incompetent,” and declared: “If you had integrity, you would resign.”
The next day, over in the House, Mayorkas maintained his previous assertion that the border was “secure” and that his department was “maximizing the resources” to “deliver the most effective results.” When asked about the status of the border wall, Mayorkas promised DHS would “comply with all our legal obligations” regarding its construction—only to acknowledge seconds later that DHS is currently “paying for the border wall to be stored instead of built.”
Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee Chair Sen. Katie Britt (R-Ala.) complained to Mayorkas that the Administration was actually cutting Homeland Security’s budget during this border crisis. In her opening statement, she said, “[DHS] is one of the only departments subject to a decreased budget, it begs the question. How can President Biden expect anyone to believe he is serious about enforcing our nation’s immigration laws?”
Even Democrats brought up the fentanyl crisis, including Senator Jon Tester (D-Mont.) who stressed that the American people are depending on Mayorkas to get rid of the Mexican drug cartels, trafficking of fentanyl and other dangerous drugs currently wreaking havoc across the country. As Sen. Cornyn (R-Texas) said the day before, last year 108,000 Americans died of overdoses due to drugs flowing indiscriminately across the border. Cornyn went on to share the story of a 17-year-old Texas boy who was lost to fentanyl poisoning, asking without success that Mayorkas apologize to the families of the victims of those drug overdose deaths.
Democrats also repeatedly expressed disappointment that the Biden Administration is reportedly considering restarting family detention. They decried that policy as inhumane, though without offering effective alternatives to help manage the ongoing humanitarian crisis at our border.
Throughout both days, Mayorkas remained positive in his assessments and intent on defending the integrity of his actions. Standing firm against calls for his resignation – and content to leave taxpayers on the hook for $3 million in attorneys’ fees defending against his impeachment – Mayorkas steadfastly refused to call the crisis at our southern border a crisis.
FAIR’s analysis of the Biden Administration’s fiscal year 2024 budget proposal shows that it cuts funding for DHS by one percent, including cuts to border security, immigration enforcement, and detention beds. With Border Patrol critically understaffed and agents lacking key resources, the question seems to ask itself, why would the Biden Administration cut the budget for the Department of Homeland Security now?