House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy says that Republicans plan to hold hearings at the southern border when they take the House majority next year — previewing what it is expected to be an increased focus on the Biden administration’s handling of the border crisis.
McCarthy spoke to WHD News on Tuesday while visiting the southern border in El Paso, Texas days after the Republicans secured a majority in the next Congress in the House of Representatives. He will hold a press conference later in the day and has said he will make a “major” announcement specifically about DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.
Ahead of that press conference McCarthy told WHD News that, if he becomes Speaker, he plans to hold congressional border hearings physically at the border, a move he says will force Democrats to see the ongoing border crisis firsthand.
The U.S. has been wracked by a historic migrant surge since the beginning of 2021. There were over 1.7 million migrant encounters in FY 2021 and over 2.3 million in FY 2022. FY 2023 is not shaping up to grant much relief to overwhelming border communities, with over 230,000 migrant encounters in October — the highest number for an October in years. Meanwhile, there has been a daily average of more than 2,500 “gotaways” getting past Border Patrol agents.
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“I’m going to go down, sit down with Border Patrol agents, get first-hand knowledge of what is happening today because I don’t trust what Secretary Mayorkas has told the nation,” McCarthy said.
Republicans have taken direct aim at Mayorkas as a focal point of the Biden administration’s leadership on the crisis. Mayorkas has angered Republicans by repeatedly claiming the border is “secure” as his agency has also claimed that the border is “closed.”
Republicans have accused the administration of fueling the crisis by rolling back Trump-era border policies such as the Remain-in-Mexico policy, as well as narrowing interior enforcement. House Republicans in July issued a blueprint for how they would secure the border, which included reinstating policies like the Remain-in-Mexico policy — which kept migrants in Mexico while their immigration claims were processed.
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The Biden administration has blamed the crisis on a combination of root causes like violence, poverty and climate change in Central America, as well as the abolition of legal pathways by the Trump administration. It has touted its efforts to combat smuggling operations, including more than 5,000 arrests in a recent operation, while also working with other countries on solutions. Recently it announced cooperation with Mexico that sees Venezuelan nationals returned under Title 42 as well as more checkpoints being set up to stop migration north.
However, that expansion of Title 42 will come to an end next month after a federal judge found the order unlawful and ordered it be wound down. Mayorkas said there is a plan to deal with the end of the order, including greater use of other methods of removal, in response to concerns that the end of Title 42 could lead to greater numbers of migrants crossing into the U.S.
At hearings last week, Mayorkas said the whole hemisphere is being hit by a migration crisis.
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“The entire hemisphere is suffering a migration crisis. We are seeing an unprecedented movement of people from country to country. It is not restricted to the southern border,” he told lawmakers at a Senate hearing.
DHS was recently hit by a mini leadership crisis when Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Commissioner Chris Magnus resigned after being told by Mayorkas that he was to resign or be fired.
Meanwhile, on Tuesday the White House pushed back against McCarthy’s trip to the border and, despite the framework issued by Republicans in July, claimed that Republicans have no plan to solve the crisis.
“McCarthy has no plan. The Republican Party has no plan. They do nothing except political stunts,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said on Tuesday.
WHD News’ Anders Hagstrom contributed to this report.