WASHINGTON (CNN) — Border Patrol chief Raul Ortiz confirmed this Wednesday that the United States does not have “operational control” of the southern border, in statements contradicting a position previously adopted by Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.
Mayorkas argued in previous congressional testimony that the department has operational control of the border, However, he remained elusive in interviews, cites the statutory definition and says it tries to “reach” it. The secretary has often been at the center of criticism from Republicans against the Biden administration’s handling of border security.
“Does DHS have operational control of our entire border?” Ortiz in the framework of an investigation by House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Mark Green, a Republican, into the situation on the border between the United States and Mexico. asked Tennessee.
“No, sir,” Ortiz replied.
Greene then played back a video of Mayorkas, in which the secretary points out that his department is under control.
“Do you think Secretary Mayorkas is lying there?” Green asked.
Ortiz declined to answer whether Mayorkas was lying, saying, “About 10 years ago we used operational control to measure our performance at Southwest Frontier. My new strategy is geared toward operational excellence.”
The exchange was part of Wednesday’s investigation into what Republicans described from the beginning as a “border crisis” by Mayorgas. The trial took place in South Texas.
In his opening remarks, Ortiz highlighted the challenges his officials face amid an influx of migrants along the U.S.-Mexico border, telling lawmakers his agency faces a “crisis situation” in some areas.
“The flow of migration represents challenges, and in some areas, a crisis situation,” Ortiz said.
Ortiz recalled the September 2021 Haitian uprising in Del Rio, Texas, calling it “messy.”
“We have over 20,000 people in one place in a short period of time,” he said. The agents also provided food and assistance, he said. Along these lines, he emphasized that he continued to be proud of the horse-mounted patrol under investigation.
“I have accepted and continue to accept full responsibility for the actions taken,” he added.
In January, the Biden administration implemented a new process allowing immigrants from Cuba, Nicaragua and Haiti to apply to enter the United States. Previously, that process was reserved for Venezuelans. Those who don’t request it can be turned back under a pre-Covid-19 border control measure known as Title 42.
Since the implementation of the process, the meets The U.S.-Mexico border fell to the lowest monthly amount since February 2021, and was the lowest level last month.
Democrats on the House Homeland Security Committee did not show up for Wednesday’s hearing in Texas. “Unfortunately, it has become clear that Republicans planned to politicize this event from the start, breaking with the commission’s proud bipartisan history,” ranking member Penny Thompson said in a statement to CNN on Tuesday. White House spokesman Ian Sams accused Republicans of “playing partisan border games” and demanded that (Ortiz) “honestly explain why they want to cut funding to fight fentanyl smuggling, stop illegal border crossings and other critical border security initiatives.” recommended..
Republicans took issue with Mayorkas’ previous testimony about maintaining operational control of the border, though the secretary recently explained its difficulties.
Last month, Mayorkas told CNN’s Chris Wallace that his goal was to “gain operational control” of the border.
Asked by Wallace what he meant by the border being secure, if people were not crossing the border irregularly, Mayorkas replied: “Absolutely not. By that measure, the border is never secure, right? ?”.
Posing the question of how secure the border is, Mayorkas said: “There’s no general definition of that. If we stick to the statutory definition, to a literal interpretation of the statutory language, if a person can escape enforcement at the border, we’ve breached border security.
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