Sen. Katie Britt asked Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas if he was prepared to admit that there was a crisis at the southern border.
Mayorkas was not, instead calling it a “significant challenge.”
Britt’s questioning, at Thursday’s hearing for the Homeland Security Subcommittee of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, specifically centered around President Biden’s Fiscal 2024 budget proposal for the Department of Homeland Security regarding border security.
“When we look at the budget that President Biden put forward, it’s clear that this administration is not afraid of calling out a crisis when they believe they see one. I will note that we have mentioned in the budget a climate crisis,” said Britt (R-Montgomery). “We have mentioned a youth mental crisis. We have a maternal health crisis, a behavioral health crisis. We have a wildfire crisis. We have a crisis of missing and murdered indigenous persons. We have a biodiversity crisis, and we even have a roadway and pedestrian safety crisis.
“Now, my point here is not to diminish the seriousness of each and every one of those topics that I just listed. It is to show that President Biden and this administration is not afraid of calling out a crisis if they believe they have one. So I ask you one more time, do you believe we have a crisis at the southwest border?”
Mayorkas said the administration is addressing the issue.
“Ranking Member Britt, let me assure you that whatever language is used does not impact the fact that we are devoting every ounce of energy to address the challenge,” he said.
“I am hopeful that we can get on the same page about this,” Britt replied. “When you look at what happens, what would trigger this? If you look at Title 42 ending on May 11, your own Department has said we’re going to see almost probably doubled numbers coming across the border at that point in time.
“Will that elevate it to this administration being able to call it for what it is, a crisis?”
Mayorkas called for planning of “not what we anticipate seeing, but rather what we need to plan for.”
Britt pivoted toward the Chinese Communist Party’s growing influence below the border.
“What are we doing, obviously it has been noted that the Chinese Communist Party are sending those precursors over to Mexico, what are we doing to disrupt and dismantle that transnational criminal organization, to disrupt that network?” she asked.
Mayorkas cited a new operation to counter China’s growing influence – including fentanyl trafficking – along the southern border.
“We have brought unprecedented force to that effort, Ranking Member Britt, and I’d like to just cite the new surge operation that we launched last week, operation Blue Lotus,” he said.
“We have brought additional Homeland Security Investigations agents to the ports of entry so that they have an increased and immediate physical presence there, not only for the assistance in the interdiction of the drugs, but critically for the immediate investigation, apprehension, and ultimately prosecution of the traffickers themselves.”
“I appreciate that. And I want you to hear me say we’ve got to continue to do more. This is affecting communities all across our country. It is affecting children. It is the leading cause of death between the ages of 18 and 45 in this nation.
“It is without a doubt a crisis. And I will say once again that I am disappointed that I can’t hear you say those words as well.”
Austen Shipley is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News.
Don’t miss out! Subscribe today to have Alabama’s leading headlines delivered to your inbox.