Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas defended his past statements asserting that the U.S.-Mexico border is “secure” amid record illegal immigration during a congressional hearing Wednesday.
Republican Mississippi Rep. Michael Guest grilled Mayorkas on whether he stands by his past claims about the southern border being “secure” during a House Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on Homeland Security hearing on the department’s projected fiscal year 2024 budget. Mayorkas’ testimony follows a record number of migrant encounters at the southern border in fiscal year 2022, when U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) authorities recorded more than 2.3 million.
CBP has also already recorded more than 1 million migrant encounters in the first five months of fiscal year 2023 at the U.S.-Mexico border.
“Congressman, I stand by my prior assessment because indeed I define it as maximizing the resources we have to deliver the most effective results. Our ability to detect, interdict and respond to threats has only increased over the years because of our incredible personnel, because of our use of technology and harnessing innovation as force multipliers,” Mayorkas said during Wednesday’s hearing.
The statement follows Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz’s recent testimony that DHS lacks “operational control” of the southern border.
“Sir, when you talk about operational control, about ten years ago we used operational control as a measuring stick of our effectiveness along the southwest border. My new strategy is geared towards mission advantage,” Ortiz said at the time when asked about Mayorkas’ previous assertions.
The FBI director, Christopher Wray, also previously contradicted Mayorkas’s statements.
“Well, I can only speak to border security from our narrow lane, but I can speak to it from that lane. What I would say is that we see significant criminal threats coming from south of the border, whether it’s guns, drugs, money, violence, we see transnational criminal organizations that are sending their drugs here and that are using street gangs here to distribute it, and that contributes to the violent crime crisis here. We’ve had takedowns just in the last few months that I could give you as an example,” Wray said in November.
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