Officials react to Mayorkas testimony: ‘There is a crisis’

  • Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas' testified in the Senate
  • During testimony, Mayorkas did not use “crisis” to describe the border
  • Republicans accused Mayorkas of losing control of the border

(NewsNation) — Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas’ testimony before the Senate Tuesday drew criticism from Democrats and Republicans.

This comes amid Republicans’ continued push to hold the Biden administration accountable for what they call a crisis at the southern border.

Amid the fiery hearing, Mayorkas didn’t admit that there was a “crisis” at the border.

“He does not see open borders as a problem,” said Rodney Scott, a former Border Patrol chief. This secretary refuses to be honest with America, he needs to be held accountable. He really needs to be impeached for nothing else, just not being open and honest about what’s going on. Policy differences aside, this is not about immigration, and they want to make it all about immigration.”

Rep. Jen Kiggans, R-Va., told NewsNation the No. 1 problem and the first step is to acknowledge “that there is a problem” at the southern border. 

“Step One is really to acknowledge that there is an open border, that there is a crisis at the border. This is a humanitarian crisis. This is a national security crisis. It’s not a secure border,” she said.

Kiggans, one of the members of the House panel who visited the U.S.-Mexico border in February, said she has visited the border twice and the “border crisis cannot continue.”

The influx of fentanyl coming into the U.S. was a top concern for senators on both sides of the aisle. Mayorkas brought up the use of technology and efforts by the department to use artificial intelligence as a force multiplier for border patrol agents. 

In a tense exchange with Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, Mayorkas repeatedly emphasized ports of entry as a major concern. He also emphasized that migrants seeking asylum and fentanyl seizures at ports of entry should be treated as separate issues.

“I was disappointed that he didn’t at least acknowledge that the cartels down there are domestic terrorists and we really need to be labeling them as such,” Kiggans said. “They are running the show, they are technologically advanced, they are very smart and savvy. They are finding ways to elude capture by our Border Patrol.

Lawmakers have urged the Biden administration to label cartel members as terrorists in an effort to fight against human smuggling and the fentanyl crisis at the border. Earlier this month, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that he would “consider” naming Mexican drug cartels federal terrorist organizations. The White House has batted down suggestions from some Republican lawmakers to designate Mexican drug cartels as terrorist groups, arguing it would have minimal benefits.

Meanwhile, amid a heated exchange, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, lashed out at Mayorkas and called him “incompetent” for not recognizing the significance of an image of color-coded wristbands that he referenced on an easel.

Cochise County, Arizona, Sheriff Mark Dannels believes that Mayorkas “knows exactly” what’s happening at the border.

“He’s been in DHS. He knows the system. He knows the border. But what’s not taking place right now is the will to secure it. We need to secure our border,” Dannels said. “The issue I have is this: Secretary Mayorkas needs to as a leader, as a Homeland Security leader, secretary, step up and admit that and let’s work together to secure this border. That’s what we’re asking him to do.”

Kiggans said there are improvements that could be made or finished to help combat border security issues.

“There are so many ways that we can make small improvements like finishing the wall. There are security systems that were started and placed by the last administration that haven’t been completed. There are lights that are right there at the border. They are wired for security cameras that we have not put in place. So, let’s do those small things. So, let’s finish the wall. Let’s get the lights installed. Let’s get the security cameras installed. That’s Step One.”

Several lawmakers are now calling for Mayorkas to resign.


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