Chairman McCaul Statement at Today’s Committee Markup of H.R. 1690Press Release
Washington, D.C. – Today, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul gave the following remarks at a full committee markup of H.R. 1690.
– Remarks as Delivered –
I’ve dealt with this issue well before Congress when I worked in the U.S. attorney’s office in Texas, western district from San Antonio to El Paso to the border, Chief of Counterterrorism and National Security. In Congress, I chaired the Homeland Security Committee for three terms, and in my judgement, I’ve never seen this border more wide open and out of operational control, as the Chief Border Patrol officer Mr. Ortiz testified that we no longer have operational control of the border. In fact, we’ve ceded it to the cartels.
And I think it’s very simple — the cause and effect. Why are we in this situation we’re in today? And this is not my words, it’s from border patrol specifically. On day one, the Biden administration rescinded the Migrant Protection Protocols, otherwise known as “Remain in Mexico.”
This program was actually working because they had to remain in Mexico pending their asylum claims. The very first bill I ever introduced in Congress was to end catch and release and that was 20 years ago.
But here we are today, and the same policy is there. Why? Because when Migrant Protection Protocols were rescinded, it allowed migrants to apply and stay in the United States. Since we don’t have detention space that’s adequate, they are released into our society.
And we saw these numbers dramatically decline, and I even talked to the Secretary of State about various other policies dealing with Haiti or Venezuela. When we do this, it works because the main magnet or driver is the expectation of political asylum — even though only 15% of those claims are actually truly political.
I don’t have to go into the numbers but we do have a humanitarian crisis of generational proportions. The federal government’s job is to secure our borders — air, land, and sea. And unfortunately, that is not happening. And it’s not me saying this, it’s border patrol saying this.
We’ve had five million encounters at our border since this administration came into office. And most sadly, we’ve had 100,000 Americans die from fentanyls that are pouring into this country, precursors coming in from China and killing our young people.
My son went to a funeral last Sunday — his best friend died because he took something he thought was Xanax and it was laced with fentanyl, and he never woke up. My oldest daughter had five of her friends that are now buried because of fentanyls.
Beyond that, we had 98 suspected terrorists who attempted to enter the homeland, just last year alone. That’s dangerous.
We’ve had 12,000 criminals attempt to enter last year, 1,000 with assault-related charges, and 62 with homicide-related [charges].
Sadly, many of these migrants don’t make the dangerous journey because it’s so dangerous. Women and children that die on the dangerous trek up.
But even when they get in the country, in my home state of Texas, we found an abandoned tractor trailer with ‘stacks of bodies’ abandoned by the human smugglers and dying from an awful death of suffocation and heat.
One rescission, one stroke of a pen, rescinding the Remain in Mexico policy, was a direct cause and effort of the chaos we’re seeing at our southern border. Again, don’t take my word for it, even though I have a lot of experience on this issue, this comes directly from our border patrol that live this nightmare day in and day out.
And that’s why I introduced this legislation — because whatever you want to say about the prior administration, and I’ve told the Secretary of Homeland this, you can call it whatever you want, you don’t have to have President Trump’s name on this. But the policy was in fact working.
We tried to fix this problem for many years without success. I think, now is the time– this legislation will push the State Department to renegotiate asylum cooperation agreements, which prohibit migrants who travel through any country with asylum agreements from eligibility. This policy was extremely effective in the prior administration, and reinstating it will give a proven solution to reducing the crisis.
Mandating the Secretary of State to re-enter MPP and ACA, this bill bolsters the work being done on asylum reform and border security in both House Judiciary Committee and House Homeland Security Committee, where I’ve been this morning. We’re also working with the appropriations committee to ensure the administration complies with the legislation.
As other committees pass other border-related legislation, I would encourage this administration to work with Congress, to re-implement MPP, and other successful measures proven to secure operational control of our border and put an end to this generational crisis.
I think, Mr. Ranking Member, that this shouldn’t be a partisan issue. It’s an American issue. When I chaired Homeland Security, we passed a lot of border bills that were bipartisan, and I think this committee exercising its jurisdiction here has an opportunity here to do the same.
And I’ve had these conversations with very high-ranking officials in this administration, and I think they realize the policy does work, it’s just that we have a political problem with it.
So I’d like to challenge our colleagues and put aside our partisan differences, and let’s reinstitute a policy that was in fact working.