- The Washington Times
Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Rep. Mayra Flores blasted Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Tuesday for “lying” to Americans about the state of the border.

The Texas Republican also demanded answers about what Mr. Mayorkas is doing to combat suicides among Border Patrol agents, who have expressed intense frustration at the way their agency is being run in the Biden administration.

“As someone who lives the reality of our southern border every day, you say that the border was secure. You are lying to the American people,” Ms. Flores told Mr. Mayorkas during a hearing before the House Homeland Security Committee.

She was one of many GOP lawmakers who challenged the secretary’s assurances that his department has control over the border.

They pointed to Homeland Security’s numbers during the Biden administration showing record levels of encounters with illegal immigrants, record levels of fentanyl surging into the U.S., and record numbers of terrorism suspects being detected by Border Patrol agents.

Agents have been pulled off the front lines and assigned to processing duties, helping to release a majority of illegal immigrants into the U.S.

SEE ALSO: Texas governor declares border ‘invasion,’ claims new powers to stop illegal immigrants

Ms. Flores, whose husband is a Border Patrol agent, said morale among agents has plummeted, and she pointed to two agents who committed suicide in the last week as evidence the department is failing its personnel.

“In no other department is a mental health crisis more visible,” she said.

Mr. Mayorkas acknowledged Ms. Flores’s connection to the Border Patrol and agreed with her that agents are facing “intense pressure.”

“They are indeed under intense challenge,” he said. “We are very dedicated to providing them with the resources and support they need to fulfill their responsibilities and to ensure their wellness.”

He said, though, that the chaos at the U.S.-Mexico boundary is not unique.

He said countries such as Colombia and Chile have taken millions of Venezuelan migrants over the last years as civil strife has engulfed Venezuela.

“We are seeing a migration in the Western Hemisphere, and in fact across the world, that is unprecedented,” he said. “We are dedicated to enhancing the security of our southern border.”

Mr. Mayorkas has requested an additional 300 Border Patrol agents in his budget for fiscal year 2023, hoping that will take some of the pressure off the current workforce.

The department says it has also contracted to bring on more than 1,000 “processing coordinators” to take over administrative tasks to free agents to get back into the field.

Homeland Security also said it is carrying out plans to target the smuggling cartels that fuel the border chaos, siphoning people and drugs across the boundary.

• Stephen Dinan can be reached at sdinan@washingtontimes.com.

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