Border chief disputes DHS has ‘operational control’ over entire US southern border


U.S. Border Patrol Captain Raul Ortiz said on Wednesday that the U.S. has no “operational control” over the southern border, contradicting a position previously taken by Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

Mayorkas has previously maintained in testimony before lawmakers that the department has operational control of the border, although he was more Be ambiguous during the interview, citing the statutory definition and saying he was trying to “make it happen”. Mayorkas has often been the focus of Republican criticism of the Biden administration’s handling of border security.

“Does the Department of Homeland Security have operational control of our entire border?” Mark Green, a Tennessee Republican and chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, asked Ortiz about the situation at the U.S.-Mexico border at a hearing on Wednesday.

“No, sir,” Ortiz replied.

Green followed up with a clip from Mayorkas, insisting his department had control.

“Do you think Secretary Majorcas is lying there?” Green asked.

Ortiz declined to say whether Mayorkas was lying, saying: “About 10 years ago, we used operational control as a measure of our effectiveness on the southwest border. My new strategy is oriented towards mission advantage. ”

The exchange was part of Wednesday’s hearing, which Republicans described from the start as a “border crisis” for Mayorcas. The hearing was held in South Texas.

In his opening remarks, Ortiz highlighted the challenges his agents face with the influx of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border, telling lawmakers that in some areas his agency faces a “crisis situation.”

“The migration wave represents a challenge and, in some areas, a crisis situation,” Ortiz said.

The principal also recalled September 2021 Surge Haitians in Del Rio, Texas, called it “chaos.”

“We had more than 20,000 people show up in one place in a short period of time,” he said, adding that agents provided food and assistance, noting that he still takes pride in riding on patrol, which under scrutiny.

“I accept and will continue to take full responsibility for the actions taken,” he added.

In January, the administration introduced a new process to allow immigrants from Cuba, Nicaragua and Haiti to apply to come to the United States. This process has previously been targeted at Venezuelans. Those who don’t apply can be turned away under Covid-era border restrictions, known as section 42.

Since the process was implemented, encounter Along the U.S.-Mexico border has fallen to the lowest monthly count since February 2021 and remained low last month.

Democrats on the House Homeland Security Committee did not attend the panel’s live hearing Wednesday in Texas. “Unfortunately, it’s clear that Republicans plan to politicize this event from the start, breaking the committee’s proud history of bipartisanship,” ranking member Benny Thompson said in a statement to CNN on Tuesday. explain. White House spokesman Ian Sams also accused Republicans of “playing partisan games at the border” and suggested they should “honestly explain to (Ortiz) why they are cutting the funding needed to fight fentanyl trafficking, stop illegal border crossings and conduct other critical law enforcement work at the border.”

Republicans seized on Mayorkas’ earlier comments in testimony that the department maintains operational control of the border, though the minister recently explained the challenges of doing so.

Mayorkas told CNN’s Chris Wallace last month His goal was to “achieve operational control over the border”.

Pressed by Wallace on what border security means and whether that means people aren’t crossing illegally, Majorkas said: “Of course not. By that standard, the border has never been safe, right?”

Asked again what the measure of border security is, Mayorkas said: “There isn’t a common definition for this. If you look at the statutory definition, the literal interpretation of the statutory language, if a person successfully evades border enforcement, then We violated border security.”

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