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Mayorkas Faces New Heat From Republicans After ‘Earth-Shattering’ Border Patrol Testimony

Friday, March 17, 2023

GOP members of the House Homeland Security Committee are seeking to increase pressure on DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas following significant testimony from Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz that the committee chairman has described as “earth-shattering.”

Ortiz, who was the primary witness at the committee’s field hearing in McAllen, Texas, on Wednesday, had gone against the administration on several issues. He told lawmakers that he disagreed with President Biden’s order to halt wall construction, claimed that there were policies that were preventing agents from carrying out their duties, and supported agents who had been wrongly accused of whipping Haitian migrants, Fox News reported.

However, GOP lawmakers were really struck by Ortiz’s statement that the U.S. lacks operational control of the border, which contradicted Mayorkas’ testimony from last year. Ortiz also highlighted the overwhelming challenges in multiple sectors due to the historic number of migrants being encountered at the border.

“In five of those nine southwest border sectors, we have seen an increase in flow and that has caused a considerable strain on our resources and really has forced the Border Patrol to move so agents and even migrants to some of the other areas,” Ortiz testified in response to a question about the border being secure.

In an interview with Fox News on Thursday, committee Chairman Mark Green (R-Tenn.) said Ortiz’s revelations were “huge statements.”

“I knew that he was the kind of guy who would shoot straight and be honest. And we prepared, so we did our homework, and we were prepared. I think you put the two together, and you got what we got, which is some pretty earth-shattering stuff,” he said.

Green also said that with the border crisis still ongoing and the end of Title 42 expulsions approaching, his committee is considering additional testimony after Wednesday’s hearing. He mentioned that Mayorkas is likely to be among those called upon to testify and that the committee will have many questions for the DHS chief.

“I think we want to talk to all the sector chiefs, but certainly the five that are struggling with the overflow right now and get their perspectives,” he said. “And then at some point, Secretary Mayorkas is going to have to come and answer the question – did he lie to Congress, or is he just ignorant about the definition in the code on what defines operational security?”

During the hearing, Rep. August Pfluger (R-Texas) also questioned Ortiz and commended him for his handling of a difficult situation, which Republicans acknowledged, Fox News added.

“Chief Ortiz is to be commended for walking a fine line, as one of my other colleagues said, of being respectful of the political hierarchy, but also telling the truth and saying enough is enough,” he said.

“It was about time,” he said. “I’m grateful that somebody had the courage to tell the truth about that.”

The Texas Republican also said the panel needs to hear from Mayorkas.

“I think that we should move quickly, with a sense of urgency to have Secretary Mayorkas testify in front of Congress,” he said. “We have heard from the lead officer in charge of the security of our border that it’s not secure. And now the same question needs to be posed to Secretary Mayorkas. Will he disagree with the lead officer in charge of border security?