Elections 2022FederalImmigration & BorderIssuesMayorkas Blasts ‘Open Border’ Talking Point by Republicans: ‘Music to the Smugglers’ Ears’

Republicans contend President Biden has fueled a perception abroad that border security is not a priority of his administration.
October 21, 2022
Responding to claims that the Biden administration is encouraging illegal immigration, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas contended that the GOP is at fault for perpetuating the idea that the southern border is “open.”

Mayorkas made the comment in an interview with the editorial board of The Dallas Morning News. The newspaper reported that he said “the political cry that the border is open is music to the smugglers’ ears, because they take that political rhetoric and they market it.”

He also said, “I’ve got a lot of work to do, and I intend to continue to do it. That’s my response.”

Illegal immigration and border security are political liabilities for Democrats. Poll results published on Friday by the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas at Austin indicated that a third of registered voters in Texas prioritized either border security or illegal immigration out of a list of 11 issues. The survey had a sample size of 1,200 registered voters and a margin of error of plus or minus 2.89 percent.

Further, 54 percent of respondents stated their support for Gov. Greg Abbott’s busing program whereby noncitizens with federal paperwork can volunteer to be transported to destinations including Washington, D.C., New York City, and Chicago. Only 35 percent indicated disapproval of the program.

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When confronted with the record 2.2 million enforcement encounters with illegal aliens along the southern border during Biden’s tenure, Democratic elected officials have made a number of arguments that range from focusing blame on Trump to accusing Republicans of racism.

Rep. Al Green (D-TX-09) said last month in a speech on the floor of the U.S. House that “history will not be kind” to Abbott and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and that they should be “ashamed” of their states’ busing programs.

“They would have derailed the Underground Railroad. They would have been the persons who were out looking for those who were seeking freedom,” Green said.

Another member of Congress, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX-18), called for a federal investigation into the busing program.

Pointing to “broken” aspects of federal immigration law that predate the Biden administration, Democrats say Republicans use the border for political theater. They also highlight the fact that many of former President Trump’s executive orders and policies have remained in place due to lawsuits filed by Texas and other states.

Others have expressed support for bipartisan policy changes. In September, Rep. Vicente Gonzalez (D-TX-15) introduced a bill entitled the Safe Zone Act that would establish facilities near the southern border of Mexico where foreign nationals could request asylum rather than traveling all the way to the southwestern U.S. border. The bill aims to have immigration cases heard within 90 days of passing a credible fear screening. Gonzalez’s office estimated it would cost $40 million each fiscal year.

In a media appearance in September, Rep. Colin Allred (D-TX-32) advocated congressional action to address immigration case backlogs.

“We have to make sure that we ramp up, in particular, on the immigration judge side and our processing side at our ports of entry,” Allred said, adding that “it takes far too long” for immigration cases to be resolved.

The congressman also pointed to the political advantage Republicans have on border security.

“We really need comprehensive immigration reform that encompasses border security, yes, also the processing of folks coming through and really makes our immigration system work for the economy we have now,” Allred said.

“I’m happy to do that. I think my colleagues here on the Democratic side in Congress are happy to pursue that comprehensive immigration reform, knowing we’re not going to get everything we want. But we have not had colleagues on the other side of the aisle who are willing to join in that because it’s been too effective a political tool for them, honestly.”

Democrats have also pointed to less troublesome data instead and say that Republicans are raising too much alarm about border security. Earlier this month, Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX-28) highlighted a drop in the amount of illegal drugs confiscated at ports of entry.

“In the first two years of the current administration, there have been less illegal drugs coming across the border than during the previous administration,” Cuellar tweeted. “Our investments in border security are working to keep illegal drugs out of our communities.”

On the other hand, Abbott recently declared criminal syndicates that traffic fentanyl to be terrorist organizations, citing a dramatic increase in seizures of fentanyl, which is known for its lethality.

In an interview with The Texan earlier this month, Rep. Michael Cloud (R-TX-27) stated that his priority if the GOP gains a majority in the U.S. House will be pursuing Mayorkas’ impeachment.

“First of all, we’ve got to impeach Mayorkas. I mean, this guy is not acting in good faith,” Cloud said. “He lies to the American people, he lies about what’s going on on the border. I visited the facilities, and they’ll literally lie about what’s happening in front of our eyes.”

In August 2021, dozens of Republican members of Congress backed a resolution to impeach Mayorkas due to the spike in encounters with illegal immigrants and what Republicans view as deliberate shirking of his duty to keep the border secure. The resolution has gone nowhere in the Democrat-controlled chamber.

A copy of the resolution to impeach Mayorkas can be found below.


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Hayden Sparks

Hayden Sparks is a senior reporter for The Texan and a lifelong resident of the Lone Star State. He has coached competitive speech and debate and has been involved in politics since a young age. One of Hayden's favorite quotes is by Sam Houston: "Texas has yet to learn submission to any oppression, come from what source it may."