By BETHANY BLANKLEY
THE CENTER SQUARE CONTRIBUTOR
(The Center Square) — (The Center Square) – DHS Secretary Mayorkas couldn’t answer Sen. Cruz’s questions on illegal immigration, and kept replying, “I’ll have to circle back with you.”
At a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing this week on illegal immigration, Republican U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas grilled Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on policies he’s implemented that have enabled an ongoing humanitarian crisis at the southern border.
During his first round of questioning, Mr. Mayorkas could not provide data on the conditions of DHS immigration detention facilities, which Sen. Cruz refers to as “Biden border cages,” or how many COVID-positive illegal immigrants the administration has released into the U.S.
After Mr. Mayorkas testified several times that the immigration system is “fundamentally broken,” Sen. Cruz asked him if the lowest rate of illegal immigration in 45 years occurred under former President Donald Trump.
Mr. Mayorkas replied, “I don’t know if it’s within 45 years, but we certainly saw in 2020 a low level of illegal immigration. 2019 was very high.”
Sen. Cruz then asked, “True or false Secretary Mayorkas, this year under Joe Biden, we’ve seen the highest rate of illegal immigration in 61 years?”
Mr. Mayorkas replied, “Again, I don’t know the number of years, but it’s certainly a historic high, Senator.”
Sen. Cruz continued: “So you’re right, it’s broken – but you broke it.”
In Fiscal Year 2021, more than 1.7 million people were encountered by Border Patrol agents entering the U.S. illegally. The number excludes the estimated several hundred thousand who evaded law enforcement.
On the issue of how many people evaded Border Patrol, Mr. Mayorkas said he didn’t know how many “got-aways” there were this year, saying, “I will have to circle back with that information.”
Sen. Cruz then pressed him on the issue, saying, “So that wasn’t a fact that you thought was relevant to this hearing?”
Mr. Mayorkas replied, “Oh, it is absolutely relevant. I understand why the question is posed. It’s a fact of great…” before he was cut off by Sen. Cruz.
“But you’re not prepared to answer it. How about this, how many deaths?” Sen. Cruz then asked. “How many illegal aliens have died crossing illegally into the United States under Joe Biden’s administration?”
Then Mr. Mayorkas replied: “I don’t have that data.”
On the amount of unaccompanied minors being held, Sen. Cruz asked, “How many children have been in the Biden cages? I’ve been to the Biden cages. I’ve seen the Biden cages. How many children have you detained at the Donna tent facility and the cages you built to hold kids? How many children have been in those cages?”
Mr. Mayorkas replied, “Respectfully, I’m not familiar with the term cages and to what you’re referring.”
Images of cells were made public by Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar earlier this year afterMr. Mayorkas’ DHS wouldn’t allow members of the media to observe the conditions of the people being held in DHS facilities. Images were also released by Border Patrol agents anonymously, and Sen. Cruz also took pictures of them.
Sen. Cruz went on, saying, “Enclosures in which they are locked in, in which I took photographs and put them out because you blocked the press and didn’t want people to see the Biden cages. The secure facilities in which they are locked down in Donna. At those facilities – how many children have been in them?”
He then asked, “Okay are you going to answer the question? How many children have been in that facility?”
Mr. Mayorkas replied, “I will have to circle back with you with the precise number.”
Sen. Cruz then went on to describe the conditions: “Children sleeping on floors, crashed in upon each other. When I took this photograph, the rate of COVID positivity was over 10 percent.”
On why Mr. Biden hasn’t been to the border, Sen. Cruz asked, “In the past year, has Joe Biden been down to see firsthand the Biden cages? Has Joe Biden been down to see this facility? Yes or no?”
Mr. Mayorkas confirmed, “The President has not been down to the border.”
Sen. Cruz then asked if Vice President Kamala Harris “has been down to see the Biden cages this facility? Yes or no?”
Mr. Mayorkas replied that she was at the border. But “has she been down to see this facility? I know she went to El Paso, has she seen the Biden cages?” Sen. Cruz asked.
Mr. Mayorkas replied, “They are not cages.”
Sen. Cruz went on, pointing to pictures he took: “What are these walls? Has Kamala Harris seen them? Yes or no? It’s a simple question. Yes or no. We didn’t need a paragraph. Yes or no, has Kamala Harris been down to see these detention facilities?”
Mr. Mayorkas confirmed, “She has not been.”
On the rate of COVID-positivity in illegal immigrants, Sen. Cruz asked, “How many illegal immigrants have you released into the United States who were COVID-positive?”
Mr. Mayorkas replied that it was DHS “policy to test individually,” despite confirming earlier this year that the more than 15,000 Haitians congregating under the Del Rio International Bridge were not tested or quarantined. Local law enforcement also confirms those coming through Customs and Border Patrol checkpoints are not tested. They are also not required to get the COVID-19 vaccine as a condition of entry, legally or illegally.
Sen. Cruz continued, saying, “I didn’t ask your policy. How many illegal aliens have you released to our COVID-positive?”
Mr. Mayorkas said, “I will have to get that number.”