Homeland Republicans to stoke mayorkas after border patrol chief’s ‘earth-shattering’ testimony


Republicans on the House Homeland Security Committee are looking to stoke DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas after a bombshell testimony from Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz that the committee chairman called “earth-shattering.”

Ortiz was the key witness at the committee’s on-site hearing in McAllen, Texas on Wednesday and defied the government on a number of issues. Ortiz told lawmakers he disagreed with President Biden’s call to stop the wall, said there were policies preventing agents from doing their jobs and backed agents who had been falsely accused of flogging Haitian migrants have.

But what lawmakers took away was Ortiz’s statement that the US has no operational control over the border — a statement that contradicted what Mayorkas told lawmakers last year — and that several sectors have been overwhelmed by historic migrant flows .

“In five of those nine southwestern border sectors we’ve seen the flow rise and that has put a significant strain on our resources and really forced border patrol to move agents and even migrants to some of the other areas,” he said in response to a question about whether the border is safe.

BORDER PATROL CHIEF SAYS DHS HAS NO OPERATIONAL CONTROL OF US BORDER

March 15, 2023: Rep. Mark Green questions Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz. (screenshot)

In an interview with Fox News Digital on Thursday, Chairman Mark Green described those takeaways as “huge statements.”

“I knew he was the guy who would shoot straight and honest. And we prepared, so we did our homework and we were prepared. I think you put the two together and you got what we got, which is some pretty earth-shattering stuff,” he said.

With the border crisis still ongoing and the end of Title 42 deportations less than two months away, Green told Fox his committee is eyeing more testimony after Wednesday’s hearing. Mayorkas may be one of those the committee wants to testify. Green said the committee will have “tons of questions” for the DHS chief.

“I think we want to talk to all the sector heads, but certainly the five that are struggling with abundance right now, and get their perspectives,” he said. “And then Minister Mayorkas has to come at some point and answer the question, did he lie to Congress or does he just have no idea what the Code defines as operational security?”

Rep. August Pfluger, R-Texas, who also questioned Ortiz at the hearing, commended the chief for handling what Republicans recognized as a difficult situation for the officer.

“Chief Ortiz is to be commended for walking a fine line, as one of my other colleagues said, respecting the political hierarchy but also speaking the truth and saying enough is enough,” he said.

It was about time,” he said. “I’m grateful that someone had the courage to speak the truth about it.”

Pfluger also believed that one of the next steps was to hear from Mayorkas.

WHITE HOUSE ACCUSES HOUSE REPUBLICANS OF PLAYING “PARTISAN GAMES” WITH TEXAS BORDER FIELD HEARING

March 15, 2023: Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz testifies at a Homeland Security hearing.

March 15, 2023: Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz testifies at a Homeland Security hearing. (screenshot)

“I think we should act quickly, with a sense of urgency to have Minister Mayorkas testify before Congress,” he said. “We heard from the chief security officer of our border that it is not safe. And now the same question must be asked of Minister Mayorkas. Will he contradict the senior border security officer?”

The Biden administration has resisted the Republicans’ portrayal of trying to blame government policies for the crisis. DHS said in a statement Wednesday that the hearing “highlights the important work the Department of Homeland Security does every day to enforce our laws, secure our borders, and fight cartels and smugglers,” citing testimonies from Ortiz and others Witnesses showed the “new” programs, technology and investments are really having an impact.”

The government has pointed to the recent drop in numbers in January and February as a sign that recent border measures – including expanded Title 42 expulsions and a humanitarian probation program that allows 30,000 migrants from four countries to fly in each month – are working.

MIGRANTE ENCOUNTERS IN FEBRUARY AT LOWEST LEVEL SINCE JAN 2022; BIDEN ADMIN CREDITS NEW BORDER MEASURES

“Although this administration has inherited a dismantled immigration system and is facing unprecedented migration affecting nations across the Western Hemisphere, it has hurled resources at the border, reduced the number of encounters between ports of entry, disrupted more smuggling operations than ever before, and more banned drugs have been phased out in the last two years than in the previous five years,” a spokesman said.

“The Department welcomes input from Congress and looks forward to working with Members on legislative solutions to our broken immigration system, which Congress has not reformed in more than 40 years.”

Rep. August Pfluger speaks from a distance as U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken testifies before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on the Biden administration's priorities for U.S. foreign policy on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC March 10, 2021.

Rep. August Pfluger speaks from a distance as U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken testifies before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on the Biden administration’s priorities for U.S. foreign policy on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC March 10, 2021. (Photo by Ken Cedeno-Pool/Getty Images)

Pfluger said he wants Mayorkas to tell Congress how the administration intends to expand policies it believes have led to a recent fall in limit numbers.

“We need Minister Mayorkas before the committee to explain the shutdown in January, the policies that changed in January and what he will do to further help this situation,” he said, arguing that an increase in the consequences for illegal entry be what will make the difference.

“I think one of the most important things, if you really listened to the testimonies yesterday, is the consequence of the repatriation flights, the deportation, the political will to actually deport people and, for at least part of the migrants who come here illegally, the catch Stopping the -and-release policy that Biden has been using seems to have had an effect,” he said.

Targeting Republican lawmakers before the hearing, the White House renewed its arguments that Republicans had failed to support various proposals for border funding and to sit down at the table on immigration reform.

“The repeated efforts by Republicans in the House to threaten or vote against border funding show they are more interested in using this issue to launch unmasked political attacks than actually working with the President on bipartisan solutions to bolster ours.” immigration system and our border security,” White House spokesman Ian Sams said before the hearing.

Green dismissed these claims, arguing that in several cases the funding was a small part of much larger spending packages, and that most of the funding went to processing and transporting migrants rather than actual security.

He said in at least one case the spending request was “part of this huge package that would bankrupt the country further” and exacerbate already high inflation.

“It’s crazy that they’re suggesting that we don’t vote for this bill that says we don’t want to support border security,” he said.

Regarding immigration reform, he said border security must be addressed first.

“If you regulate immigration and you don’t regulate border security … then more people will come to the United States. And we’re already at 6 or 7 million people in the first two years of this President. It will even out double that for its next two. Eventually, you can only get so many guests into your home. You can invite all the people you want, but eventually you can’t bring another person into the house, and we’ve gotten there.”

Green said he was open to immigration rules “because we have to have workers, we have to have a legal process,” but he also questioned whether reformed laws would even be followed illegally by those in the country.

Rep. Mark Green, a Republican from Tennessee, speaks during a subcommittee-elect hearing on the coronavirus crisis in Washington, DC, on Wednesday, May 19, 2021.

Rep. Mark Green, a Republican from Tennessee, speaks during a subcommittee-elect hearing on the coronavirus crisis in Washington, DC, on Wednesday, May 19, 2021. (Susan Walsh/AP Photo/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

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“What do you mean we would pass something legally and they would actually live by it because the laws that were passed before don’t even live. You are breaking the law. So ok I go and I fix immigration what can I say they will actually comply? You don’t now.

Republicans have said they intend to introduce and pass legislation they believe would help resolve the border crisis, and Green said that given Title 42’s upcoming May 11 expiration there is a sense of urgency.

“We’re going to be flooded. We’re already flooded. But we’ll get rid of Title 42 and open the floodgates. So we have to fix that and hopefully what we’re going to do in the House gets passed in the Senate and goes on the President,” he said. “But if not, then we’ll start doing little bits to get something done. But it’s ridiculous to think that dropping Title 42 won’t result in a massive, just massive increase.”





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