Rogers Opening Statement At Customs And Border Protections Hearing

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WASHINGTON – Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) – House Homeland Security Committee ranking member– today delivered an opening statement at a full committee hearing entitled, “Children in CBP Custody: Examining Deaths, Medical Care Procedures, and Improper Spending.”
Remarks as prepared below:
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for holding this hearing today.

And thank you again for granting our request to use the Committee room. 

I’m saddened by the loss of both Felipe and Jakelin.

Both children and a teenager died while in the custody of CBP or shortly after entering custody – which is unacceptable.

The Department has taken measurable steps to improve migrant care, but up to us in Congress to address the root cause of the problem.

That can only happen in a bipartisan manner. 

It means that we must fix immigration loopholes.

We must provide real and adequate resources to both CBP and ICE.

We must not encourage illegal immigration to our border.

We must disrupt the cartels and their human smuggling partners.

I hope we never have to hear of another tragedy at the border like what happened to these three minors.

Mr. Chairman, I am disappointed at some of the events leading up to this hearing today.

Acting Commissioner Morgan should be here so this Committee can hear directly from him.

It’s important that we understand what happened and what CBP has done since these two deaths.

The Majority did invite Acting Commissioner Morgan, but they also knew that he couldn’t participate in a remote hearing.

OMB has provided guidance to senior administration officials forbidding them from participating in remote hearings.

They are permitted to appear in person, as Acting Commissioner Morgan did before a Senate Committee on June 25th.

I ask Unanimous Consent to insert into the record Acting Commissioner Morgan’s response to the Chairman’s invitation.

In that letter, Morgan requests to appear before the Committee in person in accordance with the OMB guidance.

If we want a productive hearing, I would suggest to the Majority that we find time to hear from him in the next two weeks when we are in DC.  

Further, getting to the bottom of these two deaths is something this Committee has worked on together.

We voted unanimously last November to subpoena the Department on information related to the deaths of Felipe and Jakelin.

However, following that subpoena, it appears the Majority requested and received additional information from the University of New Mexico Office of the Medical Investigator.

It appears the Majority then shared this information with the witnesses here today, and who knows who else, before informing the Minority of its existence.

Mr. Chairman, can you tell me when this information regarding Felipe’s autopsy was provided to the Committee?   
I yield to the Chairman.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

One witness claims to have received the information on June 30th.

We got it on July 12th.

It’s very disappointing to partner with you on this only to have it be made partisan less than a week before the hearing.

I am also alarmed by the autopsy information the Majority requested.

I don’t see any legitimate reason why this Committee or any Committee of Congress would need the human tissue samples from a deceased 8 year old boy.

I am concerned the Majority’s motive in requesting, and then sharing with their witnesses, these autopsy specimens is to try to place the blame for these deaths on the men and women of the Border Patrol.

If true, I think that’s deplorable.

The IG found that there was no misconduct or malfeasance in any of the actions of DHS or its employees surrounding these unfortunate deaths.

I understand that answer doesn’t provide any political satisfaction to the majority, but those are the facts.

If the majority requested and then shared the human tissue samples of a deceased child just to advance a political narrative, it would mark an appalling new low for this Committee.

I hope that’s not the case.

We must remember that for months, Congress refused to address the border crisis that precipitated these deaths.

Record numbers of families and children crossed our border last year.

Groups of hundreds to thousands of migrants came across at once.

Migrants traveled over 2,000 miles, at the whims of the cartels and human smugglers, to get to the border.

Many told of abuse, assaults, and worse on the journey to our border.

Food, nutrition, access to medicine was not adequate, if provided at all.

As a result, many, like Jakelin, arrived in extremely poor health.

At the height of the crisis, Border Patrol Agents spent over half of their time transporting migrants to hospitals.
But for months last year, the Majority refused to acknowledge the problem, going so far as to call it a “manufactured crisis.”

Even after these children died, the Majority insisted there was “no crisis” at our border.

At one-point last year, the Majority’s response to the border crisis was to send out 316 tweets, 11 press releases, and hold 6 hearings.

None of that solved anything.
Finally, after months of denying it, the Majority finally admitted there was a crisis.

A supplemental appropriations bill was brought forward to the House. 

Yet that bill had so many poison pills attached to it, that the Senate had to strip them out before relief could head to the border.

Unfortunately, that bill was at best a stop-gap measure.

The Homeland Security Advisory Committee recently concluded that until Congress takes action to address the root cause of last year’s crisis, it’s only a matter of time before another one occurs.

I hope at some point we can get off the political messaging game and work together to fix the immigration loopholes that encourage parents to send their children on a dangerous and, often times, deadly trek to our border.

I yield back.

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