Border Patrol Chiefs To Testify Before House Committee After First Being Blocked By Mayorkas

By Bethany Blankley (The Center Square)

U.S. Border Patrol chiefs will testify before the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability on Tuesday after they were first blocked by Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas from doing so.

Last month, Committee Chairman Rep. James Comer, R-Kentucky, sent a letter to Mayorkas stating the committee would be investigating the “Biden Administration’s creation of and failure to resolve the worst border crisis in American history. … The American people deserve answers about [DHS’] role in undermining Customs and Border Protection agents’ efforts to secure the southern border.”

Four Border Patrol agents overseeing southern border sectors were called to testify: Chiefs Jason Owens, Gregory Bovino, Gloria Chavez, and Acting Chief Patricia McGurk-Daniel. Initially, two were cleared to testify by Mayorkas and two weren’t.

Comer then threatened to use the “compulsory process” to require them to testify. By Jan. 31, Mayorkas agreed to all four testifying and Comer sent another letter to him saying, “The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) initially sought to prevent Congress from hearing invaluable testimony from Chief Patrol Agents, believing that DHS’s internal protocols superseded Congressional oversight prerogatives. I am pleased that the DHS is no longer taking such a position, and will make available as witnesses” all four agents.

Comer last week told reporters at the National Press Club that the committee requested they testify about “the worst offenses with respect to illegal border crossings are occurring, just to come before the committee. … We need to hear from people on the front lines” to ask their advice and how Congress can help them do their jobs.

Comer’s initial Jan. 19 letter to Mayorkas requested documents and copies of internal communications from DHS including data on border crossers released by DHS into the U.S. and DHS’ plan to terminate the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), otherwise known as “Remain in Mexico,” over which Texas sued. A federal court halted the administration’s plan to terminate it although Texas maintains the administration isn’t following the court order.

The letter also requires Mayorkas to provide information about “the effect of historic numbers of illegal border crossings on retention rates, staffing, recruitment and morale among” Border Patrol agents. The National Border Patrol Council, the union representing them, has argued that under this administration more agents are retiring and recruitment and morale is at an all-time historic low.

Comer also requested all documents and information about an ICE memorandum Mayorkas issued in September 2021, which drastically altered enforcement policies. Texas and Louisiana sued to stop it, supported by 19 states that filed a brief with the Supreme Court.

“President [Joe] Biden’s radical open borders agenda has ignited the worst border crisis in American history,” Comer said in a statement last month when he announced the hearing. “The Biden Administration’s deliberate actions are fueling human smuggling, stimulating drug cartel operations, enabling deadly drugs such as fentanyl to flow into American communities, and encouraging illegal immigrants to flout U.S. immigration laws. … Republicans will hold the Biden Administration accountable for this ongoing humanitarian, national security, and public health crisis that has turned every town into a border town.”

In early January, Biden said on his first day in office he sent to Congress a comprehensive immigration reform bill that would extend amnesty to a wide range of people illegally in the U.S. He also announced DHS’ new mobile app that allows foreign nationals to file asylum claims remotely from anywhere in the world as well as expanding the parole process and creating a new visa process. Multiple states also sued over the parole and visas policies, which they argue are illegal.

The hearing comes after Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz testified in a case brought by Florida that Biden policies led to increased illegal crossings and one of his emails revealed the administration’s plan to release people en masse into the U.S. once Title 42 was lifted.

Since Biden’s been in office, over 5 million people from over 150 countries have illegally entered the U.S. while Mayorkas has consistently maintained the southern border is closed. A record 3.3 million people were apprehended or reported evading capture by law enforcement in fiscal 2022, according to Border Patrol data obtained by The Center Square, including nearly 1.8 million in Texas alone.

Several House Republicans have called for Mayorkas’ impeachment; two Republicans from Texas and Arizona each filed separate articles of impeachment. Mayorkas says he isn’t resigning and has blamed the previous administration for the problems he says he’s inherited.

The NBPC disagrees, tweeting on Monday: “Two years ago we ceased to have any semblance of a functioning border. It’s just an out-of-control free-for-all … a disaster zone of massive human misery, death and lawlessness. How much longer can this country continue to absorb millions of illegal aliens?

“Everyday thousands more illegal aliens enter our country by crashing our border between ports of entry. Has Biden thought about how many millions he’s going to shuttle in? Is he even aware enough to realize that many of these people can’t be ID’d and no way to check records?”

Syndicated with permission from The Center Square.

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Mayorkas Falsely Claimed Border is ‘Closed’ Ahead of Biden Trip to El Paso

By Bethany Blankley (The Center Square)

Ahead of President Biden’s first trip to the southern border on Sunday in El Paso, Texas, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas again said the U.S. southern border is closed.

His comments came despite thousands of illegal border crossers pouring into the city, filling the airport, sidewalks, homeless shelters. Over the past few days, many were bused out of town and otherwise cleared out ahead of the president’s visit.

RELATED: Theater: El Paso Cleared Out Illegal Immigrant Camps Prior to Biden’s Border Visit

On Jan. 5, after the president announced his expanded immigration plan, Mayorkas announced the Department of Homeland Security was preparing for the end of the public health authority Title 42 after its challenges in court end.

Mayorkas said, “Title 42 or not, the border is not open. We will continue to fully enforce our immigration laws in a safe, orderly and humane manner. Individuals without a legal basis to remain in the United States will be subject to expulsion under Title 42 or removal under Title 8.”

Mayorkas also said the crisis at the southern border was “because our immigration system is broken, outdated, and in desperate need of reform. The laws we enforce have not been updated for decades. It takes four or more years to conclude the average asylum case, immigration judges have a backlog of more than 1.7 million cases, and we have more than 11 undocumented people in our country, many of whom work in the shadows …”

He mentioned that there are 2.5 million Venezuelans living in Columbia and 1.5 million living in Peru. Over 350,000 Haitians are living in Brazil and Chile and the number of Nicaraguans living in Costa Rica has more than doubled over the past year.

He made the remarks as the number of apprehensions of illegal entries by Venezuelans, Nicaraguans and Haitians have surged in the U.S. in the past few months and after more than 5 million foreign nationals were apprehended or evaded capture from law enforcement. This includes over 3.3 million in fiscal 2022, of which nearly 1.8 million occurred in Texas alone.

The El Paso Sector, which includes two west Texas counties and all of New Mexico, has experienced a surge in the last two months, breaking all-time records.

RELATED: Another Record: Nearly 314,000 Apprehensions, Gotaways at Southern Border in December

In December, agents apprehended over 55,700 people and reported nearly 33,000 gotaways, according to preliminary CBP data obtained by The Center Square.

In November, they apprehended more than 53,000 illegal foreign nationals in the sector and reported over 24,000 gotaways.

The number of people crossing the board every month are greater than the individual populations of all but four cities and all but five of counties in New Mexico, according to 2022 Census data analyzed by The Center Square.

The record numbers increased after Mayorkas reversed several policies, including releasing illegal foreign nationals into the U.S. and limiting ICE enforcement of detention and deportation policies. Nineteen attorneys general filed a brief with the Supreme Court over them; Florida heads to trial Monday in another lawsuit in which the plaintiffs argue the administration is continuing to violate federal law.

Multiple members of Congress have called for Mayorkas to be impeached; multiple attorneys general, led by Florida, have called for him to resign.

Last November, U.S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., now Speaker of the House, said “if Secretary Mayorkas does not resign, House Republicans will investigate every order, every action, and every failure will determine whether we can begin impeachment inquiry.”

On Sunday morning, when asked to respond, Mayorkas told ABC News This Week he was joining the president in El Paso and at the North American Leaders Summit in Mexico City on Monday, where world leaders will discuss “the security of the homeland.” When asked if he planned to resign he said: “I do not. I’ve got a lot of work to do, and we’re going to do it,” according to Fox News.

RELATED: State of Emergency in El Paso as Border Patrol Reports Record Illegal Entries

On Saturday, Mayorkas reiterated his “secure border” language in an interview with CNN anchor Poppy Harlow. She asked him, “Border officials have been consistently telling” a CNN correspondent “they feel abandoned by this administration, by the federal government. So why has it taken two years for President Biden to go to the southern border?”

Mayorkas replied, “We have been dedicating our efforts to the situation at the border since day one. We are incredibly proud of our frontline personnel who are tirelessly and selflessly dedicated to the mission. The president knows the border very well. … He is going to see the border not for the first time in his public service career this Sunday.”

The National Border Patrol Council, the union representing BP agents, has argued the Biden administration, which defunded CBP enforcement mechanisms while sending $45 billion more to Ukraine, said the administration “doesn’t want more money for DHS to enforce laws and deport people. They only want more money to process more people so they can release more people. Don’t be fooled by their propaganda.”

The union also said, “No administration in modern history of this country has done more damage, killed the morale of Border Patrol agents and unleashed death, destruction, rapes, murders and mayhem at our border like the Biden administration.”

In a statement it issued on Saturday, it said, “As Biden and Harris sit around DC patting themselves on the back and lying about the border, things in the real world continue to deteriorate at record-setting levels. Rampant lawlessness, dead bodies piling up and human suffering are not part of the gated fantasyland they live in.”

Syndicated with permission from The Center Square.

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Experts Warn of Major Post-Title 42 Border Surge

By Cameron Arcand (The Center Square)

As Title 42 – a COVID-19 policy that allowed border authorities to turn away asylum seekers – ends next week, Arizona officials are concerned about the consequences of allowing more people to remain in the United States after crossing the southern border illegally.

The Department of Homeland Security said that the order would no longer be in effect on Dec. 21, as it was originally intended to be a way to remove migrants based on fear of COVID-19 spread.

RELATED: Record Number of Border Apprehensions, Gotaways in November

There are concerns that an even greater influx of migrants will strain authorities and border communities. Many Trump-era border policies were removed by President Joe Biden, but this is one of the few policies that’s remained.

Jobe Dickinson, president of the Border Security Alliance, said in a statement that Title 42 is a necessary “mitigation strategy” that was “heavily relied upon for nearly 3 years.”

“With the forthcoming termination of this policy, the Border Security Alliance believes there could be another surge of illegal immigrants who will take advantage of our flawed border policies,” Dickinson said. “We urge policy makers to work to fix the current and anticipated surge immediately by going back to a ‘Remain in Mexico’ program for asylum seekers.”

RELATED: Republicans Call for Impeachment of Biden’s DHS Chief Over Border Invasion

Meanwhile, the state government is in an ongoing battle with the Biden administration over the state’s decision to use shipping containers as barriers in the Yuma sector of the border.

“The number one public safety risk and environmental harm has come from inaction by the federal government to secure our border,” Anni Foster, general counsel of the Arizona governor’s office, said in a recent letter to the U.S. Justice Department and U.S. Attorney’s Office.

There were over 2.3 million border encounters at the southern border in the fiscal year 2022, according to Customs and Border Protection data. In Arizona alone, there were over 500,000 border encounters, the Arizona Daily Star reported.

RELATED: Texas Gov. Abbott Calls for Investigation into Groups Assisting With Illegal Entry into US

Syndicated with permission from The Center Square.

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Texas Gov. Abbott Calls for Investigation into Groups Assisting With Illegal Entry into US

By Bethany Blankley (The Center Square)

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has called for an investigation into the role non-governmental organizations are playing in helping foreign nationals illegally enter Texas from Mexico.

Abbott sent a letter Wednesday to Attorney General Ken Paxton requesting that his office “initiate an investigation into the role of NGOs in planning and facilitating the illegal transportation of illegal immigrants across our borders.”

RELATED: Biden Scoffs at Suggestion to Visit Border: ‘There Are More Important Things’ To Do

With the public health authority Title 42 slated to end Dec. 23, the number of people illegally entering Texas has reached an all-time high. Over a 24-hour period on Sunday, more than 2,600 people crossed the Rio Grande River near El Paso and illegally entered Texas.

Abbott writes, “there have been reports that NGOs may have assisted with” these illegal border crossings” and “may be engaged in unlawfully orchestrating other border crossings through activities on both sides of the border, including in sectors other than El Paso.”

Not only did he call for an investigation, but he also said he and the state legislature were willing to craft “any sensible legislative solutions” Paxton’s office might propose to solve “the ongoing border crisis and the role that NGOs may play in encouraging it.”

Abbott’s call came after Border Patrol El Paso Sector Chief Peter Jaquez announced, “Over the weekend, the El Paso Sector experienced a major surge in illegal crossings, with a 3-day average of 2,460 daily encounters, primarily through the downtown area of El Paso.”

The El Paso Sector, which covers two west Texas counties and all of New Mexico, has become a destination of illegal entry orchestrated by the cartels and the Mexican government. In November, the number who illegally entered the El Paso Sector was greater than the individual populations of all cities in New Mexico except for four.

RELATED: Republicans Call for Impeachment of Biden’s DHS Chief Over Border Invasion

Fox News captured some of the crossings on video, saying one group of 1,000 was the largest single group it had ever recorded. It also reported that “Border Patrol now has over 5,000 in custody and has released hundreds to city streets.”

Prior to entering El Paso, the foreign nationals were “dropped off” at an NGO in Mexico before they crossed into Texas illegally, Fox News reported.

“Video from one of the passengers inside one of the migrant buses showing their Mexican police escort, as well as a photo of part of the huge group walking to the border after they were dropped off at NGOs in Ciudad Juarez,” Fox News reported.

Publishing video and photographs online, Fox News showed a caravan of nearly 20 buses full of foreign nationals being “escorted by Mexican police into Ciudad Juarez before they crossed en masse into El Paso.”

On Monday, BP Chief Raul Ortiz announced that BP agents in the last 48 hours reported more than 16,000 encounters with illegal foreign nationals along the entire southern border. They also confiscated over $97 million in narcotics and four firearms and apprehended three gang members, two sex offenders, and two murderers.

RELATED: Record Number of Border Apprehensions, Gotaways in November

This is after a record number of over 306,000 illegally entered the U.S. through the southern border in November, according to preliminary data obtained by The Center Square.

“These numbers are likely to increase in the coming weeks,” Abbott said. “Although the burden to address the ongoing border crisis should not fall to Texas, the federal government has failed to take action to address this problem.”

While Abbott has taken unprecedented action to secure the border, he has yet to officially declare an invasion and repel it, something the Republican Party of Texas and at least 40 county judges have called on him to do. The Texas Military Department and Texas law enforcement are not preventing illegal entry as evidenced by the surge at the border, which is only expected to intensify, critics argue.

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Republicans Call for Impeachment of Biden’s DHS Chief Over Border Invasion

By Casey Harper (The Center Square)

A group of U.S. House Republicans on Tuesday called for the impeachment of Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

The lawmakers, led by U.S. Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., made their remarks during a news conference outside the Capitol Building, calling for Mayorkas’ impeachment amid the soaring number of illegal immigrants crossing into the U.S.

RELATED: Record Number of Border Apprehensions, Gotaways in November

“Every day he remains in office, America is less safe,” Biggs said.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection have released a steady stream of figures showing that the number of illegal immigrants entering through the southern border has soared to record levels since President Joe Biden took office.

Those numbers are poised to get worse. Trump-era Title 42 protections that allowed feds to expel migrants more quickly because of COVID-19 concerns are set to expire later this month, and experts predict a surge of illegal immigrants are awaiting that expiration.

RELATED: Biden Scoffs at Suggestion to Visit Border: ‘There Are More Important Things’ To Do

Some areas, like El Paso, are seeing thousands of migrants cross over each day.

Those larger numbers of migrants have also brought large quantities of fentanyl, a deadly drug that is trafficked in the U.S. via cartels. Fentanyl overdoses have soared in recent years as well.

Some in the Senate have echoed the criticism of Mayorkas.

RELATED: Europe Shows a Clear Link Between Immigration and Crime – Like the One the U.S. Seriously Downplays

“The southern border has been an issue for a long time,” said Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn. “Secretary Mayorkas only showed back up when the mainstream media caved and reported on the issue.”

Syndicated with permission from The Center Square.

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Biden Disapproval Rating Reaches New High

By Casey Harper (The Center Square)

President Joe Biden is kicking off his second year in office with his highest disapproval rating to date.

A new CNBC/Change Research poll found 56% of voters disapprove of Biden’s job as president, the worst disapproval numbers the president has seen since taking office.

The economy and COVID-19 are major factors in voters’ sentiments, with 60% disapproving of Biden’s job on the economy and 55% disapproving of his work on COVID-19. Biden had previously seen poor economic numbers but better approval numbers on his handling of the pandemic.

The drop in COVID-related ratings comes amid a flurry of vaccine mandates and a surge in omicron cases around the nation. This week, the U.S. is reporting one million new cases of COVID-19 daily.

RELATED: Ted Cruz: Biden Impeachment Likely If Republicans Win Back The House

Polling from December showed voters do not approve of Biden’s vaccine mandates.

Convention of States Action, in conjunction with Trafalgar group, released polling data last month reporting that the majority of Americans oppose new vaccine mandates to counter omicron.

The poll found 69.4% of Americans said “no new mandates or restrictions are required” in response to the COVID variant, while 30.6% said the opposite.

“Unlike government health officials in Washington, DC, Americans have already figured out that mandates and lockdowns are not the way we will beat the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Mark Meckler, president of Convention of States Action.

RELATED: Poll: Voters Unhappy With Biden Administration’s Handling Of Supply Chain Crisis

“As we’ve seen in our polls repeatedly, the American people are tired of all this and are ready to get on with their lives. The U.S. Senate finally recognized this reality … with the bipartisan passage of the bill to block President Biden’s illegal vaccine mandate, and we’re going to see more of this as we get closer to 2022 and elected officials fight to save their jobs.”

Syndicated with permission from The Center Square.

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Manhattan DA: No Charges Against Cuomo In COVID Nursing Home Death Scandal

By Steve Bittenbender (The Center Square)

Former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo started 2022 much like he ended 2021, with an apparent legal victory.

A lawyer for the disgraced ex-leader of the state said Monday that the Manhattan district attorney’s office ended its investigation into the Cuomo administration’s nursing home policies during the early stages of the COVID-19 crisis without pressing any charges.

“I was told that after a thorough investigation – as we have said all along – there was no evidence to suggest any laws were broken,” Elkan Abramowitz, former outside counsel for the executive chamber, said in a statement posted by Cuomo spokesperson Rich Azzopardi on Twitter.

The news from Manhattan comes after prosecutors in Nassau and Westchester counties said in late December they would not seek charges against the former governor related to sexual harassment allegations made against him.

RELATED: Disgraced Former Gov. Cuomo Ordered To Pay Back $5.1 Million From COVID Book Deal

In late March 2020, as COVID-19 cases were increasing in New York, state officials initiated a new policy requiring nursing homes to accept patients who had tested positive into their facilities.

The rationale was to free up beds at hospitals suddenly taxed by an influx of patients needing treatment. Shortly after the policy started, though, caseloads and deaths at the long-term care facilities skyrocketed.

The administration eventually issued a report that said the policy was not responsible for increased deaths at the facilities. Instead, the administration said community spread brought it in as workers and visitors introduced the virus to nursing homes before additional steps could be taken to control it.

The policy was eventually rescinded in early May.

The administration would also reveal daily death totals regarding people who died at hospitals and nursing homes. In January 2021, however, state Attorney General Letitia James said an investigation by her office determined that while Cuomo and state leaders did not underreport the total number of deaths, the number of deaths attributable to nursing homes was undercounted by up to 50%.

All the while, Cuomo’s national profile rose as his daily COVID-19 briefings made him a national political figure. He eventually received a $5 million book deal regarding his management of the crisis during the early days of the pandemic.

State lawmakers on both sides of the aisle were also critical of Cuomo and the nursing home policy, especially regarding the lack of information the administration revealed about it.

Cuomo resigned in August, not due to the nursing home investigation, but after an independent investigation into several sexual harassment accusations against him. Those sexual harassment allegations and the nursing home policies were also part of an impeachment probe led by members of the state Assembly.

RELATED: Report: Andrew Cuomo Now Under Federal Investigation Over Sexual Harassment Claims

The state’s public ethics agency also pulled its approval of Cuomo’s $5 million book deal. The Joint Commission on Public Ethics also has taken steps to force the former governor to give back the money after the impeachment investigation determined administration officials worked on the book in violation of the conditions it gave in its approval of the book deal.

And while Cuomo may not face prosecution in New York County, that does not mean he will necessarily escape punishment.

Prosecutors in the New York City borough were just one of several agencies investigating Cuomo regarding nursing homes. An investigation by James’ office still continues as well as ones by the FBI and federal prosecutors.

Janice Dean, a Fox News meteorologist who became one of Cuomo’s most outspoken critics after her in-laws died in nursing homes, noted those ongoing inquiries in a statement on Twitter after Monday’s news broke.

“This sounds like a little favor from an outgoing Manhattan DA, which we’ll address with the new DA,” Dean tweeted.

Cyrus Vance served as the Manhattan district attorney until the end of December. Alvin Bragg won election in November and took over officially on New Year’s Day.

A message to Bragg’s office seeking comment was not immediately returned.

Syndicated with permission from The Center Square.

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