Rogers Opening Statement at Border Security Hearing with Secretary Nielsen

WASHINGTON-Homeland Security Ranking Member Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) today delivered the following opening statement at a border security hearing with Secretary Nielsen:

I would like to take a moment to acknowledge my constituents in Lee County, Alabama whose communities were ravaged by tornado strikes this weekend. Our hearts are with them as they begin to rebuild their families and homes. I’d like to thank the state and local first responders who were on the scene to aid their neighbors. I know Governor Ivey and others are in touch with FEMA officials and I’m sure theyl’ll do everything they can to help get folks back on their feet. Thank you, Secretary Nielsen, for everything your department is doing to assist the citizens of Alabama s 3rd district.

This hearing comes at an important moment. There is a growing crisis at our southwest border.

First, changing demographics have created extraordinary challenges for our Border Patrol. In the past, most illegal border-crossers were young, Mexican men. And, our laws allowed us to swiftly return them back to Mexico.

Today, we re seeing a massive rise in the number of families and unaccompanied children from Central America and beyond. Human smugglers are exploiting the loopholes in our laws and are taking advantage of our broken immigration system. Smugglers are telling vulnerable families that a child is their visa to stay in the United States if they turn themselves in at the border. The smugglers propaganda is working.

Already, family apprehensions in Fiscal Year 2019 are more than 800 percent higher than Fiscal Year 2013. We re also seeing migrants arriving at the border in groups of record size.

These massive groups overwhelm everything from remote Border Patrol stations to busy ports of entry. 70 groups of more than 100 migrants each, have been apprehended by Border Patrol or presented to CBP since Oct. 1, 2018.

If you re curious, there were just TWO migrant groups over 100 people that reached our southwest border in FY 2017. n the last five months, there have been 70.

Migrants arriving at our border have had a long, and arduous journey. The smugglers and traffickers that advertise a ticket into the United States don t care about their victims well-being, they only care about making money. They lead them into dangerous conditions without a second thought.

As a result, Border Patrol projects a 158 percent increase in migrants needing medical treatment after crossing the border over last year. These changing migrant flows place the men and women of CBP and Border Patrol in a perilous situation. Our officers are now search and rescue teams, paramedics, and family counselors to groups of over one hundred strangers at a time.

Gangs and drug cartels are taking advantage of our porous border to bring hundreds of thousands of pounds of drugs into our country. In Fiscal Year 2018, CBP seized 895,011 pounds of drugs at the border. That includes approximately 2,135 pounds of fentanyl. To put that in perspective, just two milligrams of fentanyl are a fatal dose to most people according to the DEA. 2,135 pounds of fentanyl represents a lethal dose for about 484 MILLION people. That equals a lethal dose for more than the entire population of the United States. If that isn t an emergency, I don t know what is.

And, contrary to what some say, CBP actually seizes more pounds of drugs BETWEEN ports of entry than AT ports of entry. Since FY2012, CBP has seized more than 11 million pounds of drugs between ports of entry, compared with only 4 million pounds at ports of entry.

Mr. Chairman, we have to stop the flow of illegal immigrants and community-destroying drugs across our southwest border. We must put an end to the transnational gangs that profit off these illegal enterprises and bring crime to American streets.

The only way to do that is to secure our border. We need an all-of the-above approach to border security that includes manpower, 21st-century technology, and barriers.

With this approach, we will deter human smugglers and others from crossing hundreds of miles of open desert with innocent children. And putting those children in grave danger. Fewer drugs will make it into the United States, saving lives and making our communities safer.

We know an all-of-the-above approach works. In areas where we have built a wall system, illegal traffic has plummeted.

In San Diego, illegal traffic has dropped 92 percent. In El Paso, illegal traffic has dropped 95 percent. And in Tucson, illegal traffic has dropped 90 percent.

Let’s build on this success. Border security and keeping America safe used to be priorities for both Democrats and Republicans.

We used to hear Democrats calling for consensus. Now many of my Democratic colleagues are going as far as calling to abolish ICE.

Rather than use this hearing to score political points, I encourage my colleagues to take this opportunity to hear from the secretary herself about the challenges at our border and what the committee can do to address the changing dynamics I have just described. I welcome the Secretary s testimony about the excellent work she’s doing to secure our borders.

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Contact: Nicole Hager

202-226-8417

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