Mayorkas’ testimony followed the death of Texas Army National Guard Spc. Bishop Evans, who drowned last week after he entered the Rio Grande near Eagle Pass to rescue two people in the river.
Members of Texas’ congressional delegation differed in their assessment of Mayorkas’ job performance.
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX-18) railed against the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance policy against illegal immigration, calling it “absurd” to suggest it was a viable course of action.
Jackson Lee also asked Mayorkas about DHS’s efforts against human trafficking and human smuggling.
“We have a number of different operations both within the Department of Homeland Security and across the federal enterprise,” Mayorkas said.
“Using the Department of Treasury to seize bank accounts, Operation Sentinel that Homeland Security Investigations runs to tackle and dismantle their infrastructure, working with our intelligence community partners, working with the Department of Justice in Operation Alpha. We have so many different multifaceted efforts underway; it’s really unprecedented the level of intensity that we are bringing tackling transnational criminal organizations and human smugglers.”
Republicans berated Mayorkas for the number of apprehensions of illegal aliens in recent months, especially after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced the planned end of Title 42 enforcement.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection reported in its March operational update that there were over 212,000 enforcement encounters with illegal aliens. That number is expected to increase, possibly by hundreds of thousands, if the Title 42 public health order is ended.
Though expulsions under the Title 42 public health order had been slated to end on May 23, the plan is in limbo after U.S. District Judge Robert Summerhays on Wednesday issued a 14-day temporary restraining order against the termination of the policy.
A hearing on a preliminary injunction in the lawsuit, which was initiated by the states of Louisiana, Missouri, and Arizona, is scheduled for May 13.
Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX-21) pointed to the impact that illegal immigration is having on landowners and others residing near the border.
“Mr. Secretary, there have been over one million-plus individuals put into proceedings or released into the United States on your watch,” Roy told Mayorkas. “I’ve asked multiple border patrol personnel, not the union mind you, if we double, triple, quadruple the CBP budget, would that one million released go down? And they categorically said, ‘No, it would go up.’”
Mayorkas asserted that the U.S. has “operational control” of the border with Mexico, though Roy strongly disagreed, displaying pictures of illegal aliens trespassing on private property.
The congressman even showed pictures of corpses of people who had crossed illegally and images of mobile morgues used by local officials to store the bodies of illegal immigrants.
Citing an argument that has recently gained more traction, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX-1) asserted that Texas is being “invaded” and that less serious encroachments have been considered invasions in the past.
“Let me just say, as you know, Article IV, Section 4, says the federal government is going to keep the states free from invasion. That hasn’t happened,” Gohmert said.
“Poncho Villa’s guys in 1916, they came in and killed 18, 19 people in New Mexico, that was considered an invasion. We’re losing 100,000 a year, what would be your response when Texas repels the invasion?” Gohmert asked, likely referring to the annual number of overdose deaths caused by narcotics trafficked into the U.S.
Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NJ-10) interrupted before Mayorkas answered the question, prompting a verbal quarrel among committee members over the time clock.
Gohmert declined a reelection bid for Congress this year and unsuccessfully challenged Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who is now in a runoff with Land Commissioner George P. Bush.
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- Alejandro Mayorkas
- Bishop Evans
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Chip Roy
- George P. Bush
- Illegal Immigration
- Jerrold Nadler
- Ken Paxton
- Louie Gohmert
- Robert Summerhays
- Sheila Jackson Lee
- Title 42
- U.S. Constitution
- U.S. Customs and Border Protection
- U.S. Department of Homeland Security
- U.S. House Judiciary Committee
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."