The top U.S. Customs and Border Patrol official told Congress on March 15 that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) does not have operational control of the U.S.–Mexico border, contradicting an earlier claim by DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.
Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz made the comments to the House Homeland Security Committee during a hearing in McAllen, Texas, a border town whose southern tip lies along the Rio Grande River.
Since taking control of the House, Republicans have focused attention on the border, holding several hearings in border towns like McAllen. Last month, the House Judiciary Committee held a similar hearing in Yuma, Arizona, another town lying along the U.S.–Mexico border.
Under the immigration policies of President Joe Biden, the United States has buckled under an unprecedented influx of illegal aliens, drugs, enslaved people, and cartel activity along the southern border.
Republicans have blamed this situation on Biden’s decision to overturn President Donald Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” policy, which successfully decreased levels of illegal immigration by forcing would-be asylees to wait in Mexico until their court date. Courts would then determine whether an applicant met the conditions for receiving political asylum in the United States.
During the Republicans’ Yuma hearing, a top immigration official told the panel that 90 percent of applicants under the Remain in Mexico policy had their applications denied.
During the March 15 hearing, Ortiz was asked by Chairman Mark Green (R-Tenn.) if the United States had operational control of the border.
“Does DHS have operational control of our entire border?” Green asked.
“No sir,” Ortiz replied.
According to U.S. law, “operational control of the border” means “the prevention of all unlawful entries into the United States, including entries by terrorists, other unlawful aliens, instruments of terrorism, narcotics and other contraband.”
Green cited this definition before turning to an earlier exchange between Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) and DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas in which Republicans were told that DHS did have operational control of the border.
By Joseph Lord