(The Center Square) – Several federal and Texas law enforcement officials are testifying Wednesday before the House Committee on Homeland Security, which is holding a second congressional border security field hearing in the Rio Grande Valley.
The first was held last month in McAllen, Texas, by joint congressional subcommittees. The second is being held in Pharr, Texas, to examine Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas’ role in the border crisis, one that Republican committee members say was caused “by design.”
Democratic committee members have protested the hearing, stating they won’t be attending.
Chairman Mark Green, MD, R-Tenn., is leading the hearing to hear from law enforcement officials about “how the crisis at the Southwest border is a direct result of Secretary Mayorkas’ failure to enforce the laws of our country.”
Those slated to testify include Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz; Assistant Director, Countering Transnational Organized Crime Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Steven Cagen; Texas Department of Public Safety Director Colonel Steve McCraw; Kinney County Sheriff Brad Coe and National Border Patrol Council Vice President Chris Cabrera.
Ortiz, in a deposition for Florida in its lawsuit against the Biden administration, testified that the southern border was “currently in a crisis” as a result of Biden administration policies. Last September, Florida made public a memo Ortiz issued instructing agents to release noncitizens into the U.S. en masse because there wouldn’t be enough space to detain them.
In another Florida deposition, a top ICE official testified that agents were removing seven times fewer people who entered the U.S. illegally in the past year than agents did 10 years ago and were detaining half the number of people they did during the previous administration.
Florida also released evidence showing how Biden administration policies restricted Border Patrol agents’ ability to process and remove illegal foreign nationals, forcing them to instead release hundreds of thousands into the U.S.
Ahead of the hearing, on Tuesday night, Ortiz published photos of single adult military age men being apprehended by Border Patrol agents. He said he was “spending time with agents in the field before” the hearing and agents “apprehended multiple groups leveraging technology and good old-fashioned tactics.”
The day before, Ortiz published information about a K9 unit at the Falfurrias, Texas, Border Patrol checkpoint, that found six foreign nationals hiding inside of a prefabricated pool being transported in a stolen truck.
On Monday, he announced that in the past 72 hours, Border Patrol agents had apprehended 14,431 people. They also seized 24 pounds of fentanyl powder, 11 pounds of fentanyl pills, $58,000 in cash, nine firearms and rescued three people. They also apprehended one individual with a narcotic warrant and one registered sex offender. He said it was “another weekend of money, guns, and drugs” and exemplified “great work by our boots on the ground.”
On March 10, Ortiz said that in the past week, one Border Patrol agent had been assaulted. Agents had also apprehended 36,400 people and reported 12,800 gotaways – those who seek to evade capture by law enforcement. They also seized 410 pounds of marijuana, 126 pounds of fentanyl, 157 pounds of cocaine, and 75 pounds of methamphetamine. They also seized $80,100 in cash and seven firearms, including one that was stolen. They also apprehended eight sex offenders, apprehended four with existing warrants and three known gang members.
Sheriff Brad Coe maintains Texas and the U.S. is being invaded primarily by single, military age men between the ages of 17 and 45 who are illegally entering the U.S. They’re wearing camouflage and carrying backpacks; many are armed and dangerous, he said, committing robberies and engaging in shootouts with law enforcement, who are believed to be working or associated with Mexican cartels.
His deputies recently rescued foreign nationals from a burning vehicle and revived a 5-year-old girl being smuggled who was stashed inside of a car’s trunk.
In 2022, his deputies made 877 arrests, filing 3,057 felony charges. Of all the criminal cases filed that year, 927 were immigration-related involving illegal foreign nationals or smugglers, he said.
While these numbers are unprecedented, those who got away detected on cameras making their way through the county on foot totaled nearly 21,500. That’s at least seven times the size of the county’s population. Their whereabouts are currently unknown.
His county’s efforts would be severely limited were it not for support from Gov. Greg Abbott’s border security mission, Operation Lone Star, he said. Since it launched in March 2021, led by McCraw, OLS officers apprehended more than 355,000 foreign nationals and made over 25,000 criminal arrests, with more than 23,000 felony charges reported. They’ve also seized more than 366 million lethal doses of fentanyl, more than enough to kill everyone in America.
This article First appeared in the center square