Sen. Ron Johnson Grills Secretary Mayorkas About ‘Closed’ Borders Claim

Editor's Note: Tuesday's hearing of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee was held by Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.). He questioned Alejandro Mayorkas, Department of Homeland Security Secretary, about the increase in illegal immigration during the Biden administration. You can watch the video above or this lightly edited transcript.
Ron Johnson: Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, I'm putting together a chart Ive been keeping track of apprehensions [at] the] southwest frontier. To give you an overview, in this county, there have been nearly 1.3 million apprehensions to date.

The last two months were averaging 6,7[00] to 6,800 persons per day. Border Patrol is able to apprehend a large caravan every day.

There are eight to one hundred known get-aways. This would be equivalent to somewhere around 300,000 known got-aways for the year. These figures are a few hundred thousand people per month. This will give me an estimate of about 2.1 million apprehensions. Add the getaway, which is anywhere from three to 400,000. There were up to [2.5] millions of people.

You've repeatedly said that our borders are closed. They are closed. Are you really sure that our borders are open?

Alejandro Mayorkas, Senator: I do, and allow me to speak to that.

Johnson: Now, let me ask you a couple questions here. Although the Sept. 11th letter was received by this committee, it was apparently not received until Thursday. It wasn't until yesterday that I discovered about it. It was released to the public by Rodney Scott, a retired chief of U.S. Border Patrol.

Former Chief Scott writes that he is disturbed by the rapid and avoidable disintegration, which he claims was the best border security system in the nation's history. The chart clearly shows this.

The border was pretty secure. The flow of unaccompanied children was stopped. The Migrant Protection Protocols, which President Donald Trump established, had a significant impact on the end of family unit flow. Your administration made us serious about border security.

This committee heard you stand before it and say that you would enforce laws. You haven't done that. Let me go on.

Chief Scott states, "To think that well-resourced terrorist network criminal organizations in hostile countries are going to do it the same, is naive."

This is what's most troubling. You claimed that [former Secretary Chad Wolf] along with other political appointees in [the Department of Homeland Security] had provided incorrect facts to Congress and the American public.

Let me ask you, Mr. Sec, what percentage of the 1.3million people we have apprehended have been returned? How many are being held and detained? And how many have been dispersed among them?

Let me know if you have any numbers. We got 1.3 million people.

What number of people were returned? How many people are currently being held? How many people are being held?

Mayorkas: Senator. I'd be happy to provide that data.

Johnson: They are my priority. Johnson: I want them now.

Mayorkas: Senator. I don't have those data.

Johnson: Why don't you? Johnson: Why not?

Mayorkas: Senator I want the information to be correct

Johnson: I am looking for ballpark figures. Is it around half? Are we able to disperse about half? Are we now up to 600,000.

Mayorkas: Senator. These are the tools we use. To expel people, we use Title 42 authority. This is the public authority that the Centers for Disease Control [and Prevention] has given us.

Johnson: I hear that you don't use it to its full extent. We have 40% to 50% of those arrested under Title 42, but they aren't being returned. Does that sound accurate?

Mayorkas: This is incorrect.

Johnson: Okay, so you're saying that it is inaccurate. What's the real number? Johnson: OK, so if you are saying that's inaccurate, what is the real figure?

Mayorkas: Senator, I would like to say that we use Title 42 authority, which is the public health authority at the Centers for Disease Control [and Prevention], as much as we can.

Johnson: What is the percentage of people who are returning under Title 42?" It's approximately 750,000 people arrested under Title 42. What percentage of these individuals were returned under Title 42

Mayorkas: Senator. I will give you that data.

Johnson: You are implying that the 40%- 50% range is inaccurate. You must know the exact number if you are certain that this is incorrect.

Mayorkas, Senator, I was wrong to say that we don't use Title 42 authority to its fullest extent.

Johnson: I didn't say that. Johnson: I didn't say that we were returning everyone under Title 42. We were dispersing some of those people.

Mayorkas: This is not because we limit our use, but because Title 42 limits our ability to return people to Mexico.

This is a matter between bilateral and multilateral relations. To the extent possible, we exercise Title 42 authority. Then, we work with Mexico in order to determine its ability to receive individuals.

Johnson: You're referring to the process. I want numbers. I expect numbers. You didn't show up for the second round of questions last year. I sent you questions for the record. I have not received any response.

You came before the committee, and you promised to respond to congressional oversight. But you have not done this. Former Chief Scott claims that you gave incorrect facts to Congress. We expected you to be more thorough in your oversight of Congress.

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