Republicans convened the House Committee on Oversight and Reform on Tuesday to evaluate the “front lines of the border crisis” but Democrats were less than cooperative in the GOP’s efforts to hear from two chief patrol agents.
“President Biden and his administration have created the worst border crisis in American history,” committee chairman Republican Rep. James Comer said in his opening remarks.
Comer and several other GOP members on the committee pointed to President Joe Biden as the reason millions of migrants, including suspected terrorists, illegally cross the border. Witnesses — CBP Chief Patrol Agent of the Tucson sector John Modlin and Chief Patrol Agent of the Rio Grande Valley sector Gloria Chavez — confirmed this in their testimonies.
“In the Tucson sector, interviewing people post-arrest, what became the most common response [from migrants] was that they believed that when the administration changed that the law changed and policy changed and that there was an open border,” Modlin said.
The chiefs agreed that border security measures like the Trump-era Migrant Protection Protocols (often referred to as the “Remain in Mexico” policy), which Biden eliminated with the stroke of a pen at the beginning of his term, were “effective” at combatting the staggering number of illegal migrants flooding the border.
And staggering those numbers are.
“We went from what I would describe as unprecedented to a point where I don’t have the correct adjective to describe what’s going on,” Modlin said.
Democrats Opt for Smears over Accountability
House Democrats, who had two years to give Biden’s disastrous border the oversight it required but failed to do so, were less interested in asking the CBP officials questions and far more interested in criticizing Republicans for suggesting that Democrats’ lax border policies are responsible for the worst migrant influx in U.S. history.
Before the hearing, the Biden administration’s Department of Homeland Security tried to obstruct oversight by Republicans by keeping CBP officials from testifying. Democrats joined in their attempts to taint the GOP’s investigation into the border crisis with smears that Republicans wanted “to amplify white nationalist conspiracy theories instead of a comprehensive solution to protect our borders and strengthen our immigration system.”
The “QAnon caucus” and “anti-immigrant” name-calling continued in the hearing after ranking Democrat Rep. Jamie Raskin launched another round of politically motivated attacks in his opening remarks.
The same Democrats who bought into and promoted the border patrol whipping lie claimed that Republicans “demonize migrants” and refuse to fund the border through Democrats’ omnibus wish list. Washington D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton even went so far as to blame the GOP for the El Paso Walmart shooting.
Despite Democrats’ attempts to turn the hearing into a political circus painting the border crisis as a funding problem, instead of a policy problem, the witnesses confirmed that the U.S. southern border is comprised in a way it’s never been in the past.
Cartels ‘Leveraging Chaos’
A large part of the Republicans’ border inquiry centered on the Biden administration’s failure to secure the border against cartels, which Chavez said have become “more active” in trafficking humans and drugs into the U.S. in “recent years.”
“Cartels are leveraging chaos at the border. They are using their human smuggling operations to overwhelm U.S. Border Patrol agents with large migrant groups, often placing migrants in peril,” Comer said. “They create these diversions at the expense of human life to traffic dangerous narcotics like fentanyl, across our southern border. These deadly drugs then make their way into communities across the United States and poison our neighbors and our children.”
“No one crosses the border in Tucson sector without going through the cartels,” Modlin confirmed in his testimony. Chavez testified the same about her district.
“[Migrants are] pretty much confined to whatever those cartels require to be able to see their family member again,” she said.
Democrats tried to claim that the problems at the border are a “humanitarian crisis, not a criminal one.” Yet, none of them mentioned the connection between cartels’ illegal activities and migrants, including the criminals’ lack of care for the men, women, and children who have to bribe them for passage to the U.S.
“What my colleagues on the other side of the aisle are failing to recognize is in order to get here, [migrants] have to deal with a group of people that is not interested in human rights. They place no value on humanity. If they can make money on it, they will exploit it,” Republican Rep. Kelly Armstrong said. “I think one of the mistakes we make quite often is we talk about [cartels] like they’re drug cartels. They’re in the business of making money and whatever the path of least resistance is, is how they make money.”
Cartels’ billion-dollar migrant smuggling business, Modlin and Chavez said, deliberately puts illegal border crossers in danger so Border Patrol agents will leave their posts to conduct rescue missions.
“There are a lot of migrants out there that are out there requiring rescue. So a lot of times, our agents are out there rescuing people, being task-saturated in rescues, abetting frontline operations, so therefore cartels take advantage of that,” Chavez said.
Rescue operations like those are dangerous and have, in recent years, proved fatal for American agents and migrants alike.
A Fentanyl Pipeline
Both Republicans and Democrats agree that the proliferation of fentanyl in the U.S. is a serious issue that needs addressing. What the representatives did not agree on is that it’s Biden’s policies that embolden the cartels to manufacture and smuggle fentanyl into the states.
Multiple Democrat representatives tried to blame the proliferation of fentanyl on U.S. citizens who are often selected to bring the drugs to the United States. Rep. Katie Porter even had the audacity to argue that because CBP is seizing more fentanyl now than it was before 2020, border security under Biden is a “success.”
“Regardless of who’s bringing it across the border, U.S. citizens, ports of entry, between ports of entry, not ports of entry, the drugs that are killing people in my communities are being made by the cartels,” Armstrong pointed out.
Modlin and Chavez both said their agents are overworked and overwhelmed by the crisis. Unless there’s a national policy shift on the border, the historic crisis is only going to get worse.
“What happens on the border affects the entirety of the country,” Modlin said.