DHS’s Mayorkas Walks over Baffled GOP Senators

Homeland Security Security Alejandro Mayorkas listens to a question as he testifies before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on unaccompanied minors at the southern border, Thursday, May 13, 2021, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (Mandel Ngan/Pool via AP)Homeland Security Security Alejandro Mayorkas listens to a question as …
Mandel Ngan/Pool via AP

Homeland defense secretary Alejandro Mayorkas strolled through another hearing of fractured questions by Republican senators who confessed they are baffled by the breakdown of the nation’s border security.

“He’s doing what Democratic officials usually do, which is just not answer the questions and then never follow up,” said Rosemary Jenks, the director of government relations of NumbersUSA.

The tone at the July 27 hearing was set by Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH), the leading Republican senator on the Senate’s Committee on Homeland Security:

Let me just ask you this question: How many unlawful migrants have been removed from the United States so far this year by ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations? …

“I would be very pleased to share that data with you and your staff. I don’t have that figure in front of me,” Mayorkas answered.

“We’ve been asking for this information for weeks,” Portman responded. ” I appreciate the fact that today you are committed to getting us that information.”

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) also asked Mayorkas, politely, to supply the information that he had already refused to share with Portman’s staff. “Can you tell us when that would be available to the committee?” Romney asked.

“Yes, I commit to providing that information that data, senator, and we will provide it as quickly as possible,”  Mayorkas responded, without promising a deadline.

“I would presume that would be within the next 30 days then?” Romney politely asked, so allowing Mayorkas to repeat his no-deadline, evasive promise: “There should be no problem in doing so, senator.”

“Thank you, thank you,” Romney replied.

The establishment Republicans on the panel gave no indication they understand the depth of Mayorkas’s fervent ideological support for nation-changing migration into Americans’ society, workplaces, schools, and neighborhoods. The American homeland of 330 million Americans is “a nation that always has been and forever will remain a Nation of Immigrants,” the Cuban-born Mayorkas declared in 2013.

Even as he waved away Republican questions, Mayorkas referred to his far-reaching, sincere, and determined agenda when he testified:

Consistent with the president’s recently released immigration blueprint calling for safe, orderly and humane policies and practices to govern immigration, this budget reflects our administration’s commitment to rebuilding our system into one that is fair, efficient, and upholds our nation’s values and our laws.

Yet Republican senators declared themselves puzzled at Mayorkas’s welcome for the growing wave of economic migrants.

“Our border is facing the worst migrant crisis that we’ve had in over two decades,” said Portman, before asking Mayorkas why he is not installing the migrant-detecting surveillance technology that was designed and funded for the finished border wall. Portman said:

What even was more shocking to me is that I was told only about 20 percent of the [surveillance] technology was completed on Inauguration Day when the wall [construction] was halted …  So I just don’t get that, and I would wonder if you could give us an answer as to why you would want to reduce the amount of funding for technology?

Mayorkas drowned Portman’s questions in bureaucratic blather, saying:

We have proposed a budget [request] that includes $655 million to modernize our ports of entry, as well as $54.3 million of investments in technology between the ports … I’m looking at the project by project to understand the technological needs, the mission needs, and all aspects of the analysis.

Portman responded:

With all due respect, you’re not going to have any money to do that if you followed your own budget … but my gosh, I hope you will fight for more money for technology between the ports of entry. That’s where the encounters are taking place.

Yet Portman also indicated that he trusts Mayorkas, saying, “I think that you personally would like to see some [border-security] changes.”

Democrats made sure to help Mayorkas. They allowed Republican senators to ask only one round of questions and also broke up the GOP’s hostile comments with bouts of praise and questions about the Canadian border and other no-drama questions.

Romney also showed that he does not understand Mayorkas’s ideological opposition to Americans’ right to national borders:

I’m also incredulous that there seems to be politicization about whether we should complete the border barrier that’s already been contracted to be completed. There are gaps in it. The steel is there. The contracts have been let [to] contractors … Why in the world don’t we complete the barrier that’s already been contracted for? … I simply don’t understand.

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) challenged Mayorkas, but his questions were open-ended, and Mayorkas calmly used up the senator’s few minutes:

Mr. Secretary, with all due respect, this record is an unmitigated disaster. It’s a disaster. I want to ask you to tell us and tell the American people now what you’re going to do to change course?

“Thank you, senator, for your question,” Mayorkas replied, adding:

Let me respond in a number of different ways. First of all, the number of migrants apprehended at the border began to increase in April of last year … We have a plan, we are executing the plan, the plan takes time to execute.

Hawley ended up looking frustrated, saying, “You are the secretary; why can’t you speak to these specifics? Are you not in charge of your department? Why can [border] officers not get answers from you?”

The underlying problem is the Republican senators do not actually want to fully engage Mayorkas and his pro-migration backers in the business sectors, said one source:

They have competing interests. Obviously, they need to look like they’re on Americans’ side — while not alienating their big business donors [which] are diametrically opposed to the interests of workers.

That judgment is backed up by recent actions from senior GOP politicians — such as Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL), Rep. Tom Emmer (R-MN), and Rep. John Katko (R-NY). They prefer to denounce Biden’s border policies instead of offering swing voters a positive pocketbook message of immigration reforms — because those reforms anger the Republican Party’s Fortune 500 donors.

“I think most [Republican] politicians are petrified of the immigration issue — they don’t know how to talk about it, and they’re afraid they’re going to be called racist,” the source said, adding that  “they’re not that bright and their staffers are young and do not learn about immigration.”

Jenks added:

The Republicans have basically no power. They can yell and scream at him. But then the question is, “Do they look bad or does he look bad?” Because he’s just going sit there calmly and not answer. He’s going keep not answering, regardless of how worked up they get. So what’s the upside of looking like you’re bullying the witness?

For many years, a wide variety of pollsters have shown deep and broad opposition to labor migration and the inflow of temporary contract workers into jobs sought by young U.S. graduates. This opposition is multiracial, cross-sexnon-racistclass-basedbipartisanrationalpersistent, and recognizes the solidarity Americans owe to each other.

Mayorkas’s decision to restart the economic extraction of valuable consumers, renters, and workers from poor countries helps to move wealth — and social status — from heartland red states to the coastal blue states. Within each state, the extraction policy also helps to move wealth and status from GOP rural districts to Democrat cities.

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