The House Committee on Homeland Security held its first hearing of the 118th Congress on February 28, 2023, titled, “Every State is a Border State: Examining Secretary Mayorkas’ Border Crisis.” Under the leadership of Chairman Mark Green (R-TN) and Ranking Member Bennie Thompson (D-MS), this hearing discussed contemporary immigration policies at the U.S. Southern Border and their impact on immigrants and on communities across the country.
Representative Green noted that “200 pounds of fentanyl was uncovered” in his state, bypassing U.S. ports of entry. Representative Thompson stated that “challenges at the border go back decades, and won’t be addressed without fixing the broken system.” He went on to say that “having an asylum system allows border management to focus on real border threats.” The Biden Administration’s Six Pillar Plan at the Southern Border is to provide surging resources, increase efficiency, impose consequences for violators, bolster the capacity of NGOs and state/local partners, and work with countries in the region. Dr. Robert Trenschel, CEO of the Yuma Regional Medical Center, requested support from the federal government as his hospital provides care to over 300,000 migrants free of charge; it is the only hospital located within a 200-mile radius of the Yuma Port of Entry. He noted that “many migrant patients come in with significant diseases. They are on dialysis, in need of heart surgery, and a cohort of maternity patients have never received prenatal care.”
David Bier, Associate Director of Immigration Studies at CATO Institute, reported that the Administration’s legal pathway for Cuban, Haitian, Nicaraguan, and Venezuelan migrants has reduced their illegal immigration by 90%. Bier proposed a year-round temporary work-visa for migrant workers to fill the labor shortages in the U.S. and reduce illegal immigration and the unethical treatment of migrants by immigration enforcement. Representative Delia Ramirez (D-IL) implored the administration to uphold the right to asylum in response to a proposed rule that would severely restrict asylum eligibility. She also asked for protections against deportation, work permits for 12 million undocumented people already working in this country, and noted that “600,000 DACA recipients pay $6 Billion in taxes.” Rep. Ramirez’s last request was to “protect and expand social security,” and Bier testified that if current immigration policies were to remain unchanged through 2050, there would be a “shortfall of 70 million people needed to keep Social Security solvent.”
By Yonathan Gonzalez Villatoro, Policy Intern, Pizzigati Fellow