The Senate Judiciary Committee hearing this week on “Oversight of the Department of Homeland Security” was another subpar performance from DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, to say the least.
What became clear during the hearing was the lack of transparency and leadership that is needed to tackle the biggest border security crisis the U.S. has ever faced.
The following are six key takeaways from the hearing:
1) “A” for Effort: Mayorkas started off by giving himself and his department an “A” for effort, investment in mission, and support of the Department of Homeland Security workforce.
The American people do not elect a president and his administration to put in a good effort, however. They expect results and progress—neither of which are forthcoming from Mayorkas’ DHS. This was a remarkably poor answer to a simple question.
2) Attempt to Redirect Blame to Trump: This is an often-used argument from the Biden administration. When members of the administration are challenged on their open-borders agenda and lack of any measurable results, they pivot to claiming President Donald Trump’s administration broke the immigration system.
We heard this refrain on several occasions from Mayorkas. In fact, when responding to a question about control over the border, the secretary replied that the Biden administration has more control over the border “consistent with our values.”
That phrasing is neither credible, nor true. Anyone with eyes to see can conclude this administration does not have control of the border. Further, American values include upholding the rule of law, not the chaos this administration has wrought.
What the administration doesn’t seem to understand is that this tactic isn’t working. The American people don’t want to hear excuses 10 months into the administration. They want to see results, which include gaining control of the border and an immigration system that is lawful and orderly.
3) Lack of Transparency: On numerous occasions, Mayorkas had the chance to provide data to buttress his arguments or to respond to legitimate and straightforward questions. Here’s a short list of information he did not provide:
- The number of COVID-positive illegal aliens released into the U.S.
- The number of illegal aliens with criminal convictions released into the U.S.
- The number of minors currently held in U.S. Border Patrol facilities.
- The number or percentage of in-person interviews conducted by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services on Afghanistan evacuees.
- The number of families separated at the border since February, the first full month of the Biden administration.
To be clear, the Department of Homeland Security produces daily metrics containing this information. The more appropriate question is: Why didn’t the secretary come prepared with such data?
4) “Obama Cages”: When asked by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, about the number of minors currently being held in U.S. Border Patrol facilities—or “cages,” as the left referred to them during the Trump administration—Mayorkas went out of his way to say that he was not familiar with the description of “cages.”
That would conflict with testimony he provided during his confirmation hearing when he repeatedly acknowledged the term “cages,” as well as the fact of the construction of such facilities during his time at the department under President Barack Obama.
5) Border Patrol Agents on Horseback: When pressed on why he didn’t defend Border Patrol agents on horseback from unwarranted criticism earlier this year, Mayorkas again obfuscated and claimed that he “stands with the men and women of the department … [and that] I will not prejudge the facts … .”
But unfortunately, that stands in stark contrast to comments he made shortly after the incident in September:
[I was] horrified by what I saw.
One cannot weaponize a horse to aggressively attack a child. That is unacceptable. That is not what our policies and our training require. … Let me be quite clear: That is not acceptable.
That lack of leadership and refusing to support the department’s law enforcement officers is taking a toll. The National Border Patrol Council local president in Del Rio, Texas, Jon Anfinsen, told news outlets recently that the investigation is demoralizing agents in the region as they see their colleagues taken off patrol.
“They believe agency leadership doesn’t support them, and the longer this drags on, the worse it gets,” Anfinsen said.
6) Payments to Illegals Aliens: Perhaps the most remarkable part of the hearing occurred when Mayorkas refused to acknowledge that paying illegal aliens who were separated from their children $450,000 would, in fact, encourage more illegal crossings.
This is common sense to most Americans and is certainly consistent with what we know about the cartels and how they would market such payments.
To not come out strongly and say this is the wrong approach, Mayorkas again bowed to political pressure. It was also misleading for the secretary to say he isn’t part of the payment discussions.
His department is being sued, and thus is the “client.” Justice Department attorneys represent DHS and can advise DHS regarding payment, but the client makes the decision.
Americans deserve clarity and direct answers on this border crisis. Unfortunately, this administration deserves not an “A,” but an “F,” on that score.
This piece originally appeared in The Daily Signal