Homeland Safety Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas testified earlier than a Home panel on Tuesday, simply days after Chris Magnus was pressured to resign, based on studies, from his put up as Customs and Border Safety commissioner.
The Home Homeland Safety Committee listening to additionally featured FBI Director Christopher Wray and Nationwide Counterterrorism Heart Director Christine Abizaid. They fielded questions from lawmakers in regards to the southern border and different nationwide safety threats.
The Division of Homeland Safety has confronted scrutiny amid record-high ranges of unlawful immigration, which has accelerated in current months.
The next are 5 key exchanges from the listening to.
Home Terrorism as Prime Risk
Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., chairman of the Homeland Safety Committee, requested Mayorkas about the specter of home terrorism.
“Secretary Mayorkas, final yr, you stated that, quote, ‘Home violent extremism’ poses probably the most deadly and chronic terrorist-related menace to our nation right now. Is that also true?” Thompson requested.
Mayorkas answered: “Mr. Chairman, that continues to be our evaluation within the Division of Homeland Safety, that home violent extremism, significantly by way of lone actors, or small teams loosely affiliated, are spurred to violence by ideologies of hate, anti-government sentiments, private grievances, and different narratives propagated on on-line platforms.”
Wray doubled down on that message about home terrorism later within the listening to.
“Actually, now we have seen over the past a number of years, going again to the summer time of 2019, a rise in home violent extremism,” Wray stated. “And we’re involved in regards to the lethality, particularly of racially motivated violent extremism and the spike beginning in 2020 of anti-government violent extremism.”
Report Border Crossing Numbers
“For the eighth straight month, now we have had over 200,000 encounters alongside our southwest border,” Rep. Michael Visitor, R-Miss., stated of unlawful immigrants crossing the border from Mexico. “In fiscal yr 2022, these numbers had been greater than 2,378,000; fiscal 2021, 1,734,000.”
Visitor in contrast these numbers to the final yr of President Donald Trump’s administration, throughout which border crossing numbers, he stated, had been at 458,000.
“We’re seeing in a two-year interval the numbers of encounters at our southwest border has elevated over 520%,” the Mississippi lawmaker stated. “Simply taking 2022 and 2021 mixed, these two years through which you may have been answerable for this company, we see a quantity that exceeds 4 million.”
Visitor stated that quantity is bigger than the populations of 23 U.S. states and requested Mayorkas whether or not he had misplaced “operational management” of the border.
Mayorkas responded by saying that the problem is just not “unique or particular to our southern border.”
“It is a problem that exists all through the hemisphere,” he stated.
Mayorkas Once more Insists Border ‘Safe’
Mayorkas was questioned in regards to the fee and nature of the historic surge of unlawful immigration on the border.
Rep. Dan Bishop, R-N.C., requested the Homeland Safety chief whether or not he thought the border is “safe.”
“I’ve heard you, within the Judiciary Committee, not too long ago, in the summertime, testify that the border is ‘safe,’” he stated. “Secretary Mayorkas, do you proceed to keep up that the border is safe?”
“Sure, and we’re working day in and day trip to boost its safety, congressman,” Mayorkas responded.
Bishop additionally requested Wray for his evaluation of the border. Wray had a distinct take.
“Nicely, I can solely converse to frame safety from our slender lane,” the FBI chief responded. “What I might say is that we see vital felony threats coming from south of the border, whether or not it’s weapons, medicine, cash, violence.”
Wray stated that his company is seeing “transnational felony organizations” sending medicine throughout the border and supplying gangs in the US.
Rep. August Pfluger, R-Texas, additionally pressed Mayorkas about his assertion that the border is “safe.” Referring to the practically 600,000 estimated “gotaways” on the border—unlawful border crossers who weren’t detained by authorities—Pfluger requested, “How lots of the 600,000 folks match the fear watchlist?”
Mayorkas responded, “by definition, they’re gotaways,” earlier than Pfluger interrupted him and requested rhetorically, “Then how will you say the border is safe? The American folks aren’t shopping for it.”
FBI Position in Jan. 6 Capitol Riot
Rep. Clay Higgins, R-La., pressed Wray on the FBI’s involvement within the Jan. 6, 2021, riot on the Capitol.
“Did the FBI have confidential human sources embedded inside January 6 protesters on January 6 of 2021?” Higgins requested.
Wray answered by saying that the FBI didn’t trigger the Jan. 6 incident.
“As I’m positive you possibly can recognize, I’ve to be very cautious what I can say … about after we do and don’t, the place now we have and haven’t, used confidential sources,” he stated. “However to the extent that there’s a suggestion, for instance, that the FBI’s confidential human sources or FBI workers indirectly instigated or orchestrated January 6, that’s categorically false.”
Higgins then requested if there have been FBI human sources dressed as Trump supporters contained in the Capitol on Jan. 6, to which Wray started by saying, “Once more, I’ve to be very cautious …” earlier than being minimize off by Higgins.
“It needs to be a ‘no,’” Higgins stated. “Are you able to not inform the American folks, ‘No, we didn’t have confidential human sources dressed as Trump supporters, positioned contained in the Capitol on January 6?”
DHS Coordination With Social Media
Bishop, the North Carolina Republican, requested Mayorkas a few report from the Intercept that alleged that the Division of Homeland Safety coordinated with social media corporations to censor non-public residents. Bishop particularly referenced part of the report that alleged that DHS emailed Twitter about an account that “imperiled election integrity,” regardless of having solely 56 followers and references to “weed outlets.”
“Secretary Mayorkas, does the extent of interplay with social media platforms, and that one particularly, that anecdote, counsel that DHS has engaged in egregious overreach that threatens the First Modification?” Bishop requested.
Mayorkas responded that the DHS incident contacting Twitter was performed earlier than Biden and his administration took workplace.
“Let me guarantee you that our work to deal with disinformation—which is a software that our nation-state adversaries search to make use of to sow discord on this nation—is one thing that may be very, very respectful of the civil rights and civil liberties of people, in addition to their privateness rights,” he stated.
Bishop then requested if the DHS was making an attempt to conduct “censorship by proxy as a way of evading the First Modification.”
“We completely don’t,” Mayorkas stated.
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