Florida Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz blasted Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas at a recent House Judiciary Committee hearing on border security.
In his line of questioning, Gaetz asked Mayorkas about the removal process of 1.2 million people who are in the U.S. illegally who’ve been given deportation orders by judges and haven’t been removed.
“1.2 million people are undetained, free, roaming about the country,” Gaetz said. “They’ve gone before a judge. A judge has issued a final order of removal.”
“How many ICE agents do you need to deport them?” he asked Mayorkas.
Mayorkas replied, “Congressman I think what we need is legislation to fix the broken immigration system.”
“We don’t need legislation to overcome a final order of removal,” Gaetz replied. “I get it. You want comprehensive immigration reform and a big amnesty thing. Very unlikely that’s going to happen. So, we have to operate under the laws that exist now. So, under the laws that exist now, a judge has told 1.2 million people that they have no right to be here.”
He asked Mayorkas again, “Do you plan to remove those 1.2 million people?” He also asked again how much money DHS needed to deport them.
In response, Mayorkas said, “Congressman, there are a number of questions that your question raises with respect to whether all of those individuals actually have been given due process.”
Gaetz interrupted him saying due process had been followed. He told Mayorkas, “You don’t have any plans to remove them. You don’t know how many ICE agents it will take, and you don’t know how much money it would take because you actually don’t want to remove them.”
The congressman referred to a Sept. 30 memo Mayorkas issued drastically limiting ICE agents’ ability to deport those in the country illegally. He paraphrased the contents of the memo, saying it “says, ‘well, if you haven’t committed a crime and you just came to our country illegally, we’re not going to remove you,’” asking Mayorkas, “Isn’t that your position?”
Mayorkas responded, “No, it isn’t.”
Mayorkas then asked Gaetz, “If one has a finite amount of resources, and one has a finite number of hours, and one has a choice of removing 20 shoplifters or three fugitive armed bank robbers, how would you spend your time?”
“I know how you’ve spent yours,” Gaetz replied. “By decreasing by 48% the number of criminals you’ve arrested. By deporting 63% fewer convicted criminals.
“You have the lowest deportation rate in the history of the department. Right?”
The data Gaetz cited, Mayorkas said, “is misleading.”
“No, it’s your data. It’s actually what your own agency is reporting,” Gaetz said.
When it comes to those who’ve been released into the U.S., he asked Mayorkas if some of them would be committing crimes in the U.S.
Mayorkas said, “undoubtedly.”
“So, Americans who are the victims of the crimes from the people that you release into the country are collateral damage that you are willing to accept in order to have our border function as a turn style,” Gaetz said.
In response, Mayorkas said, “Congressman I couldn’t disagree with you more.”
Mayorkas attempted to provide data he said was accurate but wasn’t given the opportunity to do so.