U. S. Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz testified Wednesday that the Department of Homeland Security doesn’t have operational control of the border and Mexican cartels control perimeters along it. The testimony at a U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security hearing on border security in Pharr, Texas.
When asked by Committee Chairman Mark Green, R-Tenn., “Does DHS have operational control of the entire southwest border?” Ortiz replied, “No sir.”
His testimony was consistent with testimony he gave last August in a Florida lawsuit when he said there was “currently a crisis” at the border.
Ortiz’s testimony conflicted with DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas’ testimony before Congress last April. When asked by Texas Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, if he would testify under oath “do we have operational control [of the border] yes or no?” Mayorkas replied, “Yes we do.”
At April’s hearing, Roy then read the legal definition of operational control: “the prevention of all unlawful entries into the United States including entries by terrorists, other non-lawful aliens, instruments of terrorism, narcotics and other contraband.” He again asked, “Do you stand by your testimony that we have operational control in light of this definition?” to which Mayorkas replied, “I do.”
Green played a clip of the exchange and read the definition and asked Ortiz if he believed Mayorkas was lying. Ortiz said he didn’t see the entire testimony but based on the federal statute, he said DHS doesn’t have operation control of the border.
“Do the cartels control perimeters at the border?” Green asked Ortiz, who replied, ‘The cartels control a lot south of the border.”
Green said BP sector chiefs told him Biden administration policies and the State Department not negotiating agreements with countries to accept the return of their citizens were the primary reasons for the surge at the southern border. Ortiz said he agreed with that assessment and that ICE’s inability to repatriate foreign nationals to their countries of origin “has been a tremendous challenge.”
Green, in his opening remarks, said over 6 million people who’d illegally entered the U.S. in two years under Mayorkas’ leadership was more than all who came in during the 12 years of the previous two administrations combined.
Lack of money, personnel and technology aren’t the reasons for the massive surge in people, crime and drugs, Green said. It was Mayorkas changing 89 pre-existing policies and implementing no detention or deterrence policies that caused it, he said.
“In violation of the laws written by the United States Congress, passed and signed by previous presidents, this secretary of DHS wants nothing more than to flood the country with people,” he said. “And the problem with that is it’s empowered the narco-human trafficking terrorist cartels … who are making billions bringing people into the United States, many of whom have to pay the cartels back with forced criminal labor.
“The cartels put out advertisements all over the world: $50,000 if you’re coming from China; $30,000 if you’re coming from Iran; $10,000-$15,000 if you’re coming from Central America,” he said. “And then they flood those people in mass waves … compelling Border Patrol to focus its resources at the ports of entry. To use a military term, the cartels are neutralizing Border Patrol by forcing them to thin the lines in the rural areas then the fentanyl and nefarious individuals come across through those areas.”
Mayorkas has consistently argued the border is closed, even in January after record numbers of illegal foreign nationals were released onto El Paso, Texas, streets, prompting the mayor to declare a state of emergency. Despite multiple calls for Mayorkas to resign and be impeached, a DHS spokesperson told The Center Square, “Secretary Mayorkas has no plans to resign.”
DHS would “continue our work to enforce our laws and secure our border, while building a safe, orderly, and humane immigration system,” the spokesperson said, adding, “Members of Congress can do better than point the finger at someone else; they should come to the table and work on solutions for our broken system and outdated laws, which they have not updated in over 40 years.”
Democratic committee members refused to attend the hearing, calling it a “political stunt.” Green reacted, “the political stunt was the Democrats’ empty chairs.”
The committee “is supposed to be a bipartisan committee; I guess to them bipartisanship is only when you agree exactly with them,” he said. “Bipartisanship is when you sit down together and debate the issues and talk to try and find common ground and solutions. You can’t have bipartisanship if the other side fails to show up. … Their place of duty is here, and they are awol.”