Republicans in the House bashed Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas Wednesday for the Southern border crisis. They accused him of “intentionally” allowing the situation to worsen under his leadership dramatically.
“You have not secured our borders, Mr. Secretary, and I believe you’ve done so intentionally,” said chair of the Homeland Security committee, GOP Representative Mark Green of Tennessee, in his opening remarks during a budget hearing on the Biden administration’s budget request for DHS. “There is no other explanation for the systematic dismantling and transformation of our border into a lawless and dangerous open border.”
North Carolina Republican Representative Dan Bishop said, “Everybody of any reasonable sensibility looks at what you have been saying and what you continue to say and recognizes that it blinks at reality, and you know it. You’re not delusional. But you are prepared to be dishonest with this Congress repeatedly.”
Strong words were expected at the hearing. For several months, Republicans have loudly criticized Mayorkas for his handling of the border, calling for his removal. DHS’ bill would allow the agency to hire another 1,400 personnel and earmark over $800 million for new technology to fight fentanyl trafficking and secure the border.
Mayorkas’ previous comments to Congress that the border is secure are at the core of much of the debate. The GOP has charged that he lied under oath when he said that to Congress, although Secretary Mayorkas said he interprets “operational control” differently.
If it is seen as preventing all unlawful entries into the U.S., as stated in the Secure Fence Act, then “no administration has ever had operational control,” said Mayorkas during a late March Senate hearing.
Mississippi Democrat and ranking member Bennie Thompson said during the hearing that Republicans have acknowledged in the past that the “operational control” definition is “impossible” to achieve or “unreachable,” citing comments made by former committee chairs Peter King and Rep. Michael McCaul, a Republican from Texas.
“Republicans are criticizing you for not achieving something that no secretary has ever achieved. It seems like their standard changes dependent on the administration,” said Thompson.
Mayorkas emphasized the border situation has been an issue for decades, bipartisan approach needed
Mayorkas emphasized that the situation at the border has been an issue for decades, and a bipartisan approach is necessary to fix the current crisis.
“If our budget were reduced…it would seriously, gravely harm our ability to apprehend individuals who are attempting to cross our border illegally,” along with the ability to disrupt drug trafficking, said Mayorkas, and added, “This is a challenge that we all have to work together to address. We’re dealing with a broken system, and we need to reform.”
“Instead of pointing fingers and pursuing baseless attacks, Congress should work with the Department and pass legislation to fix our broken immigration system, which has not been updated in over 40 years,” added a DHS spokesperson in a statement to Politico.
Democrats tried to dampen the attacks by praising Mayorkas for his efforts despite the difficult situation, which several members tried to blame on the Trump administration.
According to Thompson, the Biden administration inherited a DHS “beleaguered by four years of political polarization and mismanagement. Among Secretary Mayorkas’ predecessors were so-called leaders, often unqualified and sometimes unlawfully appointed, who did the former president’s bidding.”
Later in the hearing, Georgia Republican Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene was blocked from participating further after calling Mayorkas a “liar” while questioning him.
“While you live in denial and sit over there with this attitude that you’re doing everything right…you are killing Americans with your policies,” said Taylor Greene.
Thompson then interrupted her, asking for her words to be “taken down.”
“We can disagree, but just the fact that we have people watching, you don’t have to call a witness a liar,” said Thompson.
When asked by McCaul if she would withdraw or modify her remarks, Greene stood firm “because the facts show the proof.”
Chair Green interjected: “It’s pretty clear that the rules state you can’t impune someone’s character. Identifying or calling someone a liar is unacceptable on this committee, and I make the ruling that we strike those words.”
The committee members then clarified the motion and barred Greene from speaking further.