By Joseph Lord
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) told Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to come to Congress prepared with specific answers to questions about the security of the U.S. southern border.
The testimony to the Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Oversight of the Department of Homeland Security will mark Mr. Mayorkas’ first appearance before Congress since the end of Title 42, a broad alien expulsion authority, on May 11.
President Joe Biden and Mr. Mayorkas have faced condemnation for their handling of the American–Mexico border from Congressional Republicans amid an unprecedented surge of illegal aliens.
Estimates of how many illegal aliens have entered vary but comprise at least 6 million foreign nationals who have entered the country through unlawful means.
Republicans say Mr. Mayorkas has allowed border security to lapse during his tenure as DHS chief for purely ideological reasons, with several suggesting that his handling of the border constitutes intentional dereliction of duty, an impeachable offense.
Mr. Mayorkas, for his part, has blamed Congress for the situation.
During a previous appearance before the House Appropriations Committee in April, Mr. Mayorkas argued: “We inherited a broken and dismantled system that is already under strain … only Congress can fix this.”
He contended that his DHS has “effectively managed” the unprecedented flow of illegal aliens.
Mr. Jordan suggested in a July 24 letter to Mr. Mayorkas that his party is preparing to challenge that claim.
In the letter, Mr. Jordan told Mr. Mayorkas to come prepared “to discuss in detail several aspects of the administration’s immigration policies.”
Mr. Mayorkas last appeared before the Judiciary panel in April 2022, but Mr. Jordan said his answers at the time were inadequate.
Often, administration officials will be unable to answer specific questions posed by members of Congress but offer to return information at a later time—answers that receive much less attention than those offered during televised hearings.
But in some cases, Mr. Jordan said, Mr. Mayorkas has now gone over a year without replying to questions raised during his previous appearance.
Mr. Jordan wrote, “Unfortunately, during your testimony last year, you were unable to provide specific data or information and, to this date, you still have not provided substantive responses to some members’ questions from that hearing.”
“The American people have a right to know how many illegal aliens this administration has allowed to enter and remain in the United States,” he added, listing a series of data points he said Mr. Mayorkas should be prepared to answer during the hearing.
First, he advised Mr. Mayorkas to be prepared to tell the panel how many aliens have been encountered by Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) who were later released into the interior or remain in CBP custody.
South of the border, cartel operatives have made a lucrative business model out of the smuggling of human beings across the Rio Grande. These smugglers, dubbed “coyotes,” instruct aliens on what to say in order to be allowed to stay in the country.
Specifically, these models exploit the United States’ generous asylum policy, which allows foreign nationals safe harbor in the nation if they fear for their life on the basis of their race, religion, or opposition to powerful forces within their home country.
Because of this, many illegal aliens entering the country for purely economic reasons have been allowed entry by claiming asylum.
Thus, Mr. Jordan also instructed Mr. Mayorkas to be prepared to tell Congress how many aliens admitted into the country since Mr. Biden took office have been admitted on the basis of such claims.
Of those, he asked for information on how many were judged to have a credible fear of persecution and how many were not.
For those ruled not to have a credible fear, Mr. Jordan said the panel will expect answers on how many have been removed from the United States.
For those ruled to have a credible fear, Mr. Jordan says the panel will seek information on how many have had their case for asylum heard by an immigration judge.
In many major U.S. cities, immigration courts have backlogs running well into the 2030s, meaning that it is likely that many admitted on the basis of a credible fear of persecution will not face such a hearing for many years.
The hearing is likely to be a heated one as House Republicans inch toward opening impeachment proceedings against Mr. Mayorkas—a threat the House majority has raised with increasing frequency over the past several months.
Though not yet willing to commit to impeachment proceedings against the embattled DHS chief, Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has indicated his support for the move as Republicans grow increasingly frustrated with security failures across the American southwest.