Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, tore into Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Tuesday and said he should be fired over his handling of the ongoing crisis at the southern border and the flow of fentanyl into the U.S.
"My constituents are saying, who's accountable? Who's accountable? Who's paying a price? Who got fired? Well, you haven't been fired. You should be fired," Cornyn said at a Senate Judiciary hearing. "But you haven't been fired because you were carrying out the policies of the Biden administration. And we've seen nothing but death and destruction as a result."
The fiery remarks came as Cornyn quizzed Mayorkas on the flow of fentanyl into the U.S., as well as the ongoing crisis at the southern border -- which saw more than 2.4 million migrant encounters in the U.S. in FY 2022.
More than 70,000 Americans die each year due to fentanyl -- which is primarily produced in Mexico using Chinese precursors and smuggled in across the southern border.
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Mayorkas and Democrats have noted that the majority (about 90%) of fentanyl seizures occur at the ports of entry, and those arrested are typically U.S. citizens.
But Republicans have pointed to the enormous number of gotaways who slip past Border Patrol agents between ports of entry and have noted that it is impossible to know how much fentanyl is being smuggled in.
This clash was seen earlier in the exchange when Cornyn asked Mayorkas about how cartels are attempting to overwhelm agents, so they can slip drugs past them. Mayorkas said he was not aware of that strategy and attempted to highlight the seizures at ports of entry.
"Approximately 90% of the fentanyl that is brought into…" Mayorkas said.
"That’s a totally made-up number," Cornyn replied, cutting him off. "You had nearly 1 million people get away from Border Patrol…between 2022 and 2023, you have no idea how many of those people were carrying fentanyl or other drugs with them do you?"
"Senator, The expert view I received is that approximately 90%…" Mayorkas said.
"That’s a totally made-up number, and you know it," Cornyn shot back.
Mayorkas repeated his claim that the majority of fentanyl is brought in via vehicles at the ports.
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"The expert view I received is that approximately 90% of the fentanyl is brought in through the ports of entry through passenger vehicles, through trucks, through pedestrians," he said.
Cornyn went on to say that Mayorkas had a "credibility problem with the Congress and the American people."
"I have unflinching confidence in the integrity of my conduct," Mayorkas said.
Mayorkas was on the receiving end of a number of lines of tough questioning from Republicans, who grilled the secretary over his handling of the border crisis. It comes as a number of lawmakers in both the House and the Senate have called for his impeachment over the crisis. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, called him "incompetent" and accused him of being "willing to allow children to be raped to follow political orders."
Mayorkas called the remarks "revolting" and a DHS spokesperson later followed up with a statement backing the secretary.
"Secretary Mayorkas is proud to advance the noble mission of this Department, support its extraordinary workforce, and serve the American people. The Department will continue to enforce our laws and secure our border, protect the nation from terrorism, improve our cybersecurity, all while building a safe, orderly, and humane immigration system. Instead of pointing fingers, Congress should work with the Department and pass legislation to fix our broken immigration system, which has not been updated in over 40 years," the spokesperson said.