The ongoing crisis at the U.S. southern border took priority on Capitol Hill Wednesday with two separate hearings.
In the House, there was a hearing about a possible investigation into Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas’ overseeing of the situation, and in the Senate, a hearing was held focusing on unaccompanied minors.
The focus on the border by lawmakers came as North Dakota prepares to send its National Guard troops to help in Texas’ “Operation Lone Star.”
Roughly 100 troopers from the state’s Guard force are being deployed to Texas to help secure the southern border.
“It’s in the best interests of not only Texas but all states to prevent illegal entry at the U.S.-Mexico border and stop drug trafficking, human trafficking, and other transnational criminal activity… as every community is affected by border security,” Burgum said.
Meanwhile, Mayorkas was the focus of a hearing by the House Committee on Homeland Security titled “Open Borders – Closed Case.” During questioning, Republicans accused Mayorkas of dereliction of duty.
“Mayorkas has claimed his policies are not responsible for the crisis, but they are. Claimed he was handed a dismantled system, he wasn’t. He claimed that DHS is promptly dispelling illegal aliens. They aren’t. Our investigation has unearthed nearly 80 occasions on which Mayorkas has been outright dishonest, misleading and other instances where he has displayed unacceptable ignorance about the basic aspects of the ongoing crisis,” committee chair U.S. Rep. Mark Green (R-TN) said.
Some Democrats called the accusations against Mayorkas political theater.
“We know there are challenges at the border because poverty and political instability are causing millions of people to flee their home countries, but the notion that President Biden or Secretary Mayorkas are guilty of dereliction of duty is absurd. They have been proactive in taking steps to protect our homeland,” said U.S. Rep. Seth Magaziner (D-RI).
Amid reports that some 300,000 children have been trafficked or smuggled across the southern border, the Senate Judiciary Committee is looking into the safety of unaccompanied minors at the border.
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) accused Republicans of making this a political issue.
“I vigorously opposed President Trump’s inhumane family separation policy and I immediately raised concerns following recent reports that unaccompanied children were being exploited,” he said.
Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC) told the committee, “We all want children to be well taken care of, but have you ever asked the question, what is it in the last two years that has driven the numbers up 357%? It’s policy.”
Meanwhile, the Biden administration has suspended making online appointments for those seeking asylum at a specific Texas border crossing. It’s close to a notoriously dangerous Mexican city and advocates have warned migrants they are being targeted for extortion.
Several asylum-seekers have reported being threatened that they would be held and miss their scheduled appointments unless they paid these “so-called” Mexican officials.