No Democrats Bother to Show Up as House Judiciary Committee Holds Second Hearing on the Biden Border Crisis
FAIR Take | February 2023
On February 23, the House Judiciary Committee, which has immigration and naturalization within its jurisdiction, held the second installment of its hearings on the Biden Border Crisis in the 118th Congress. Unlike the committee’s first hearing, held February 1 in Washington, DC, this was held at City Hall in Yuma, AZ – a town of 100,000 on the U.S.-Mexico border. Also unlike the first border crisis hearing, it drew not a single Democratic member of the committee. To drive this point home, Congressman Paul Gosar (R-AZ) – who, despite not being on the committee, was a special guest since his district includes Yuma – read aloud the full list of 19 absent Democrats, with some drawing audible jeers from the crowd.
The fifteen Republican Members present heard testimony from three witnesses: Yuma County Supervisor Jonathan Lines, Yuma County Sheriff Leon Wilmot, and Yuma Regional Medical Center CEO Dr. Robert Trenschel. The latter highlighted the staggering cost of providing health care to the 600,000 illegal aliens that have flooded the area since Biden took office. “We have delivered over $26 million in uncompensated care to these individuals,” Trenschel explained. “It is an unsustainable model to have a hospital like ours bear the entire burden of paying for migrant health care. No business or service can survive ongoing, large-scale expenses without any offsetting revenue.” Yet no woke NGOs nor the federal government – the biggest boosters of open-borders policies – have offered to compensate Trenschel’s hospital.
At several points, the witnesses offered testimony that led committee chairman Jim Jordan (R-OH) to express audible shock. One instance came when Sheriff Wilmot highlighted the spike in the county’s apprehensions from 40 per day under Trump to “200 a day, then 400 a day, to over 1,000 a day” after Biden took office. The Sheriff also provided county-specific numbers of known gotaways: 28,000 in fiscal year 2022 and already 5,000 in fiscal year 2023. Nationwide, there have been over 1.2 million known gotaways since Biden took office.
Congressman Dan Bishop (R-NC) highlighted a deadly January gun battle between the Sinaloa cartel and Mexican Army in Culiacán, some 450 miles south of the border. “That will occur in the United States of America if we do not get control of this problem,” Bishop warned. “It sits squarely as a responsibility of the federal government, and we must have the will to act.”
Indeed, cartel members are already operating inside the United States. Congressman Ben Cline (R-VA) relayed a frightening incident that occurred as Members traveled to the San Luis border crossing – 40 minutes south of downtown Yuma – the day prior. “We had, in our convoy, cars that slowed down [and] forced their way into our line of vans, and I didn’t think anything of it…It was only today we realized they were cartel members who were infiltrating our caravan to try and figure out what we were doing, what we were looking at,” Cline explained. During questioning by freshman Congressman Kevin Kiley (R-CA), Sheriff Wilmot further explained how cartels gather intelligence: “They have scouts that are in our mountains, so they can watch Border Patrol’s actions out in the remote part of our desert [and] coordinate the loads getting through, whether they’re human or narcotics.”
While other House committees are also investigating the border crisis (the Oversight Committee heard from Border Patrol agents on February 7, the Energy and Commerce Committee explored public health aspects of the crisis on February 15, and the Homeland Security Committee will hold their first hearing on February 28), the Judiciary Committee wields the most power over statutory reforms to shut off the magnets of illegal immigration. Of course, with a Democratic majority in the Senate, it’s unlikely Republican-passed reforms will actually become law. In his closing remarks, chairman Jordan foreshadowed Republicans’ strategy to get around this: “When you have split government, you have to do it on the appropriations bills…Say, ‘Look…if you don’t start enforcing the law, we’re not going to fund certain things.’ Not our law enforcement, not Border Patrol – we need that – but other things. We’re going to have to do that if we’re going to remedy the situation.” Unfortunately, with Congress having passed a full-year omnibus funding bill in December, this fight may have to wait until the end of the fiscal year in September. The voters of Yuma and many other communities will be watching to see if Republicans keep their promise.
To watch the full House Judiciary Committee hearing entitled “The Biden Border Crisis – Part II,” please click here.