Senator Portman, Ranking Member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, joined America Reports on Fox News today to discuss his intent to press Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Mayorkas about the unprecedented crisis at the southern border, as well as the creation of a Disinformation Governance Board at DHS. Last month, the administration announced its intent to lift Title 42. Title 42 is public health order put in place to allow border authorities to turn unlawful immigrants away due to the COVID-19 public health crisis. Currently about half of the unlawful immigrants who attempt to enter our country are turned away using Title 42. Portman discussed his plan to press Secretary Mayorkas on how lifting Title 42 without an adequate plan to deter unlawful immigrants once the order is lifted will lead the current border crisis to catastrophe.
Portman also discussed his deep concerns with the administration’s decision to create a Disinformation Governance Board at DHS. Portman has been a leader in countering propaganda and disinformation. In 2016, Portman and Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) wrote and successfully passed legislation tasking the State Department’s Global Engagement Center (GEC) with leading U.S. government efforts to counter propaganda and disinformation from countries like Russia and China. The mission of the GEC is to “lead, synchronize, and coordinate efforts of the federal government in countering foreign state and foreign non-state propaganda and disinformation efforts.” At the same time, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) also performs work to combat foreign propaganda and disinformation. Portman discussed his plan to raise his concerns with the board’s strategy and focus as well as his questions about how it will operate without doubling the GEC’s and CISA’s efforts.
A transcript of the interview can be found below and a video can be found here.
PORTMAN ON IF THE ADMINISTRATION HAS A PLAN TO HANDLE COMING SURGE OF UNLAWFUL MIGRANTS
“No, just the opposite. We are very concerned because we already have an unprecedented situation at the border. It is a crisis about to become a catastrophe. Roughly half the people are now being turned away under Title 42 which is a public health authority, so just by logic you would say well that means twice as many people are going to come. However, it’s likely to be worse than that because the traffickers all over the world are telling people you can now come into the United States, that’s why we’ve seen higher levels already. So instead of 8,000 people a day, you’re right, some people predict as many as 18,000. This will totally overwhelm the Border Patrol and keep them from doing their important job of both dealing with illegal migration, but also illegal drugs, so it’s a huge problem. And what the administration has said in response will not help with regard to deterring people, it will only help with regard to processing people to get them into our country more quickly, which is not the solution.”
PORTMAN ON DISINFORMATION GOVERNANCE BOARD
“You know, it shocked all of us, none of us were given a heads up about it. There already is a Global Engagement Center, it’s at the State Department, it deals with disinformation from places like Russia. I just heard the Zelenskyy interview, and one of the things Russia is doing in Ukraine of course is a hybrid war. They are bombarding them with disinformation as well as missiles. We have an organization to deal with that, we should fund that more to deal with China, North Korea, Iran, and other countries that are sending disinformation to the United States, so we’re not quite sure what this is for. In fact, there seems to be no mission attached to it and even though it has been in existence for a couple months now. So Sandra, I do have deep concerns about it and we’re going to raise it.”