Takeaway: The Department of Homeland Security’s Policies Have Endangered the Safety and First Amendment Rights of All Americans
WASHINGTON, D.C. – During yesterday’s hearing to consider the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) FY24 Budget, Republicans on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee pressed Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas over his Department’s dangerous abuses of power and policies that have caused an unprecedented surge in illegal crossings. Throughout the hearing, members asked critical questions on the various issues threatening our homeland and endangering communities across the country.
NOTE: To view each member’s line of questioning, please click on the corresponding videos.
Ranking Member Paul Highlighted the Department’s Abusive Powers and Partisan Censorship of COVID Information
Ranking Member Paul (R-KY): “What should terrify every American is that the full extent of DHS’s abuse of its power against its own citizens is still largely unknown. The public is only recently learning the degree to which the Department’s Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) was employed to surveil and censor American citizens’ social media for what it concluded to be ‘misinformation’ and ‘disinformation.’ What was the result? Statements about COVID-19 that are now supported by evidence were flagged as disinformation.”
“Instead of focusing on real threats, DHS was internally strategizing on how it could expand social media censorship of Americans using third-party nonprofits as, in the words of a CISA official, a ‘clearing house for information to avoid the appearance of government propaganda.’ This kind of abuse of power should terrify all of us regardless of which side of the aisle you are on.”
Ranking Member Paul pressed the Secretary on the Department’s stance on the origin of the COVID-19 pandemic, citing the FBI’s conclusion that COVID-19 most likely came from a laboratory leak. The Secretary refused to answer, and when asked if the Department’s National Biological Threat Characterization Center, the office designed to study the manipulation of viruses and how biological elements can be weaponized, has any plans to study the origins of COVID, the Secretary stated, “No work has been done, no work is planned, and no work is underway.”
Nearly 6 Million Apprehensions and 1.4 Million Known Gotaways Reported at the Southern Border Under the Secretary’s Watch
Senator Johnson (R-WI): “22 states have populations less than 4 million people, and 28 states have populations less than 5 million people. That is the magnitude of the problem. We have no idea who those people are and what kind of security they risk. In a little over two years, we have let in 4-5 million people, the population of almost 20-30 states. And you say this is a priority?”
The Asylum Process is Broken, yet the Department Proposed Cuts to Detention Centers in their FY24 Budget
Senator Lankford (R-OK) pointed out that the Department’s measures to implement new strategies to slow the flood of illegal migrants over the border have proved unsuccessful as the number of migrants illegally crossing continues to increase year after year. Currently, the wait for millions of asylum seekers’ claims to be adjudicated can be 15-18 years for non-detained individuals. This long wait time has caused an extensive backlog, and instead of boosting the resources to quickly process these cases, the Department has proposed a reduction in requests for new detention spaces.
Senator Lankford: “While we have an incredible backlog in the non-detained docket, you are requesting fewer spaces in your proposed budget when there is an acceleration of people.”
There has been Little to No Accountability on the Department’s Crack Down on Disinformation Online
Senator Rick Scott (R-FL) pressed the Secretary on the Department violating the law by censoring Americans and on the Biden Administration’s coordinated effort to spread false narratives online. He referenced the Twitter Files which revealed the government was working with and funding NGOs to censor millions of Americans through big tech, a direct violation of our First Amendment rights. When asked, Secretary Mayorkas refused to accept responsibility for the Department’s censorship of Americans.
The Department’s Tactic to Address Root Causes in Other Countries to Secure Our Own Border is a Naïve Task
Senator Romney (R-UT) brought concerns to the Secretary on the Department’s focus on solving crime and reducing poverty in other countries as the primary way to secure and safeguard our border. The Senator stated, “America can’t solve poverty and end crime in our own country. The idea that we are going to do it in dozens of countries across Latin America and reduce the desire of people to come to America is just not realistic. Let’s devote our resources to securing our border.”
The Administration’s Open-Border Policies Have Led to a Historic Number of Unaccompanied Minors at the Southern Border – and Subsequent Trafficking and Child Abuse
Senator Hawley (R-MO) highlighted record-levels – a 342% surge – of unaccompanied children at the border, due in part to changes made to Title 42 by the Biden Administration. Senator Hawley also pressed Secretary Mayorkas after new reports revealed a sharp rise in trafficking and abuse of these migrant children under his watch. The Secretary refused to answer on this, and the Senator concluded by saying if Secretary Mayorkas does not resign, he should be removed from office.
Secretary Mayorkas Has Repeatedly Failed to Secure the Border and Safeguard Families
Senator Marshall (R-KS): “The safety and security of families is the number one concern I hear from my parents, from my family, and from people in the Senate. You have made every community a border community. An increase in fentanyl deaths and skyrocketing crime proves that. 300 people dying every day in America from fentanyl poisoning, that is a plane crashing every night. I am concerned we have no idea who is coming into our country. Since the beginning of the FY23, border patrol has encountered 70 illegal aliens who are listed on the terrorist screening database. In FY22 98 illegal aliens on the terrorist watchlist were encountered at the southern border.”