In opening remarks to the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, Mark Daniels, the sheriff of Cochise County, Arizona, told attendees that the border situation was in “the worst shape I’ve ever seen.”
“I have personally experienced the good, the bad and the ugly of being a border county. Right now, it’s the ugliest thing I’ve ever been through,” Daniels said as part of his prepared remarks.
Dannels explained that the cost of the cartel’s human and drug smuggling operations in his community totaled $4.3 million, “borne by my local and state taxpayers.
“Border-related crime is at an all-time high. Deaths, homicide investigations, aggravated assaults against my fellow citizens … and, yes, assault on law enforcement officers,” Dannels said.
The veteran law enforcement officer went on to blame President Biden for the deplorable state of the border, who he claims has been unresponsive to his concerns.
“My fellow sheriffs and I have tried to partner with this administration to include the president of the United States, with high hopes to share a collective message, a collective plan of action, to support the rule of law, to prioritize our southern border and to provide up-to-date information on community impacts and concerns – with little or no success,” he said. “By allowing our border security mission and immigration laws to be discretionary, these criminal cartels continue to be the real winners.”
Before Daniels’ speech, Brandon Dunn told committee members about his son Noah, who died of fentanyl poisoning. “He was killed by a drug dealer selling fake Percocet pills,” Dunn said, fighting back tears during his emotional testimony.
The hearing, led by Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R., Ohio), marked the first time the new Republican-controlled Congress convened to address the record spike in illegal immigration that occurred under President Biden.
In recent weeks, the White House has come under increasing criticism from fellow Democrats, particularly New York City Mayor Eric Adams, over the administration’s failure to crack down on illegal immigration. Since southern Republican governors began busing migrants to northern cities, Adams has become vocal about the need for federal aid.
“[W]When I traveled to El Paso, you could see firsthand the impact of how it’s not only hurting the foundation of El Paso, but look at Chicago, Houston, Washington, New York City,” Adams told MSNBC last Wednesday.
“It’s just unfair for cities to bear the brunt of a national problem.”
Later in the interview, Adams went so far as to compare the situation New York is currently facing to that of a fire.
“If my house is on fire, I don’t want to hear about fire prevention. Let’s put out the fire. And the fire right now is the overpopulation of migrants and asylum seekers in several cities around the country,” Adams argued.
Under the Biden administration, the number of illegal migrants apprehended at the Mexico border rose to a record high in 2022. Customs and Border Protection stopped 234,088 people crossing the southern border in April 2022, the highest number in recorded history of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
Since taking office in January 2021, President Biden has reversed several Trump-era border policies, including the “Stay in Mexico” initiative that required asylum seekers to wait outside the country while their applications were processed.
The Biden administration has been fighting in the courts to repeal Title 42, a pandemic-era public health policy that curbed illegal border crossings, but the president expanded the policy in early January, sparking a backlash from progressive Democrats who say that this move was a smear for the Republicans.
“I believe that the expansion of Title 42 is something that is being implemented to slow down Republican political attacks on immigrants and the administration,” Rep. Greg Cassar (D., Texas) told ABC. “I think it’s a mistake.”
More recent data from DHS shows apprehensions at the border have declined in recent months, suggesting fewer migrants are trying to cross the border illegally. Last week’s DHS statistics showed a drop to 5,000 daily detentions, the lowest rate in nearly a year and well below the 8,000 to 9,000 seen in December.