As Republicans Commence Hearings on the Border Crisis, Congressional Democrats and the White House Dig In their Heels
After two years of running roughshod over border and immigration enforcement policies with no meaningful oversight by Congress, the new Republican majority in the House of Representatives has begun fulfilling its promise to hold the Biden administration accountable. In February, a variety of House committees held hearings – in Washington, D.C., and in the field near border hotspots – into a crisis that has seen some 6 million people enter the country illegally since President Biden took office.
The hearings kicked off in the House Oversight Committee and Accountability Committee, where Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.) said the goal was “to gather facts about the border crisis from career law enforcement officials.” Other committees, including Judiciary and Homeland Security also held hearings to look into how the Biden administration is handling (or mishandling) immigration matters and the accompanying surge of lethal fentanyl crossing the border, and the damage these twin crises are inflicting on the American public.
Needless to say, neither the Biden administration nor congressional Democrats took kindly to this effort to apply the brakes to the unprecedented wave of illegal migration.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which has primary responsibility for controlling our borders and enforcing immigration laws, refused to allow high level enforcement personnel to appear before the committees to testify. Instead, DHS insisted on sending their own carefully selected officials from Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to read pre-approved statements and mouth authorized responses to tough questions posed by committee members.
DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas – the chief architect of the Biden immigration policy – also launched a preemptive public rebuttal in which he attempted to shift the blame for the border crisis to Congress, primarily Republicans who have blocked efforts to grant amnesty to illegal aliens and vastly expand legal immigration. Ignoring the fact that illegal immigration was largely under control when President Biden assumed office, and immediately began spiraling out of control, Mayorkas insisted that it is Congress’ failure to “fix [the] immigration system” that is at the root of the problem, in an interview on CNN. As calls for his impeachment increase on Capitol Hill, Mayorkas also made it clear that he has no intention of resigning.
Congressional Democrats were equally combative in the face of Republican oversight initiatives. The ranking minority member of the Oversight Committee, Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), also attempted to deflect blame. “The political problem on Capitol Hill is that when it comes to working out balanced, common-sense immigration policy solutions, Republicans driven by the MAGA wing have been systematically thwarting and derailing comprehensive efforts to improve America’s immigration system and strengthen border enforcement for years,” Raskin said in his opening statement. To be clear, the working Democratic leadership definition of “strengthen border enforcement,” means more resources to process and release migrants faster.
What emerged from the initial round of hearings is a clear picture that neither the Biden administration, nor congressional Democrats will be backing down from the policies that have unleashed record illegal immigration and drug-smuggling along the border. If House Republicans are going to force any changes to the dangerous policies that have been put in place under the Biden administration, it will not be easy. Even though they have strong support from the American people, they can expect fierce resistance from Democrats in Washington.