House Democrats on Friday released a report that includes segments of interviews over the last three months with border patrol sector chiefs they say undermine Republican arguments there is a crisis at the border.
The report is an effort to undercut a potential GOP impeachment inquiry against Homeland Security Secretary Alejando Mayorkas, and to counter narratives pushed by GOP leaders, who responded that Democrats had “cherry-picked” information.
“Democratic Committee staff is providing this memorandum to share the perspectives of Chief Patrol Agents which Republicans have chosen to ignore because they contradict the false and misleading claims promoted in order to justify efforts to impeach Secretary Mayorkas,” Democrats from both the House Oversight Committee and the House Homeland Security Committee concluded in the report.
“During their transcribed interviews, the Chief Patrol Agents presented assessments of border security unequivocally contrary to this Republican narrative. Chief Patrol Agents disagreed that a crisis currently exists at the southwest border and, in their own words, described their operations to obtain border security as successful.”
In one section of the report, Democrats take aim on GOP claims that Mayorkas is “intentionally” seeking disruption at the border, with staff asking multiple agents if they had ever been instructed by the secretary to stop securing the border, a question that garnered repeated nos.
Democrats said agents have “never received orders or directives to cease operations to secure the southwest border, and policies implemented have remained consistent with the law enforcement duties of U.S. Border Patrol agents.”
The memo also reviews other policy decisions made by the Biden administration, including the rescission of Title 42, which has led to a decline in figures at the border.
Republicans have been critical of the change in procedure, which reverts back to processing under Title 8, which includes consequences for improperly crossing the border.
Officers interviewed by the committee discussed the process for checking the background of those apprehended, something Democrats said countered Republican assertions that terrorists or those with criminal records could enter the country.
“Each Chief Patrol Agent explained that U.S. Border Patrol continues to screen individuals it apprehends for criminal backgrounds or suspected ties to terrorist organizations and processed accordingly. In particular, the Chief Patrol Agents made clear that biometric data from apprehended individuals is screened against American law enforcement databases and, in some instances, even information from foreign governments,” Democrats wrote.
“Apprehended individuals who are found to possess a criminal history are not unilaterally released into the United States without diligent consultation with other law enforcement agencies.”
Agents interviewed also praised the rollout of staff designated to help with processing migrants, something they say has aided in getting officers into the field.
A GOP border bill this year barred funding for any such processing staff.
“They’re processing individuals, helping to not only do that, but they might be remote processing, things of that nature, to help us make sure that we’re having the data input that we need, reduces the amount of agents that are needed in our processing areas,” Big Bend Sector Chief Patrol Agent Sean McGoffin told the committees in April.
“And I think we’ve been very successful with that. We’re currently about—roughly 16 percent of our agents are actually processing as a whole. So that really helps our morale.”
Republicans responded by releasing different portions of the interviews, including segments that stressed the need for consequences for those who cross the border, something that has been aided by the return of Title 8.
They also included segments with agents describing current levels of migration at historic highs.
“Today’s Democrat memorandum manipulates the facts contained in over 850 pages of testimony from Chief Patrol Agents stationed along the border to cover up the Biden border crisis,” House Oversight Chair James Comer (R-Ky.) and House Homeland Security Chair Mark Green (R-Tenn.) said in a statement.
“In reality, Chief Patrol Agents have detailed to our committees the historically high levels of illegal border crossings, migrant deaths, rescues of migrants put in peril by cartel smuggling organizations, gotaways, and assaults against our heroic Border Patrol agents.”