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February 28, 2023

At Border Hearing, Democrats Expose Republican Hypocrisy and Show Clear Need for Comprehensive Immigration Reform

(WASHINGTON) – Today, Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), Ranking Member of the Committee on Homeland Security, led Committee Democrats in calling out Republicans for holding another politically charged border security hearing to attack the Administration while ignoring the clear need for comprehensive immigration reform to address the situation at the border.   

Ranking Member Thompson opened the hearing by laying out five clear facts to set the record straight:

FACT: Democrats are focused on investing in border staffing, infrastructure, and technology, especially at ports of entry, where the vast majority of fentanyl is trafficked. Over 90 percent of fentanyl seizures occur at ports of entry or border checkpoints, and those responsible are overwhelmingly American citizens, not migrants.

FACT: Despite tough talk on border security, Republicans voted against necessary funding, opposing $7.2 billion for Border Patrol operations, including for hiring; $65 million for 300 more Border Patrol agents; and $60 million for additional personnel at ports of entry last year. Some Republican Members have even suggested defunding the Department of Homeland Security – the very Department that is working to secure our borders.

FACT: The Biden administration is working to deal with the fallout of the prior administration’s failed border policies while treating people humanely and with dignity.  The administration is implementing a six-pillar plan for immigration and border security.

FACT: The administration has also created a new legal pathway for Cubans, Venezuelans, Haitians, and Nicaraguans – who make up almost a third of those currently being encountered at the border. This is already showing results at the border – Border Patrol encounters with nationals of those four countries declined by 95 percent in January

FACT: The Biden administration is working to reunite hundreds of families who remain separated years after the Trump administration took children from their parents at the border – a policy that will be a permanent stain on our country’s conscience.

During questioning, Ranking Member Thompson and Democratic Witness David Bier of the conservative CATO Institute refuted Republicans' assertion that migration at the border is a result of Biden Administration policies. When Ranking Member Thompson asked “if what we’re seeing at the border now is a consequence of that broken system,” Mr. Bier responded that “If people have a legal opportunity to come to this country than they do not chose the illegal option. So, what we are seeing at the border is a direct consequence of the decades-long restrictions on legal immigration and legal pathways to come to this country.”

Rep. Glenn Ivey (D-MD) highlighted that Republicans have failed to put forward any kind of real plan or proposed funding. He stated, “They [Republicans] put up no funds for any of the types of things and the programs that you all are talking about are challenges. I know you have different views on what the cause of the problems are and all of that, but I think that almost all of them require additional resources. So, from that old movie Jerry McGuire, show me the money. Your budget shows your priorities. The budget priorities stated by the Republican caucus so far is that they want to talk about ‘prosecuting Mr. Mayorkas for negligent homicide.’ They want to talk about ‘removing Mr. Mayorkas from office.’ But fixing the border crisis, which is what I thought this hearing was going to be about, we don’t get much conversation about that.”

Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA), and Republican witness, Pinal County, Arizona Sheriff Mark Lamb, agreed on the need to create a legal path to citizenship for individuals who wish to move to the United States. “Most Americans want to have a border that is safe and secure,” said Rep. Swalwell. “They want to have immigrants come to this country and work the jobs that have a necessity to be filled. They want to make sure that there’s a background check and that the legal process are the ones who got to the front of the line. It seems to be that the politics of this overtakes the solutions.”  Mr. Swalwell pointed out that the reforms he and Sheriff Lamb supported were reflected in the 2014 immigration reform package supported by President Obama and 68 U.S. Senators, but failed to win the support of the Republican-led House.

Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV) laid bare the hypocrisy of Republican Members of Congress who play politics with border security challenges while refusing to vote for funding to address them. “When this came up for us to consider putting more resources into fighting drugs being carried over the southern border,” Rep. Titus stated, “all but two—two—Republicans who are currently serving in this Congress voted against the appropriations bill. All but two voted against it. Now, that appropriations bill had critical provisions to help DHS manage the border. It included $400 million for inspection systems to detect drugs. I’d like to hear from those people who think this is such a big problem why they didn’t vote for the resources to go after it.” 

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