The hearing will take place on March 15 in McAllen, Texas and is in line with Republican promises to zero in on the ongoing border crisis now into its third year. Speaker Kevin McCarthy had promised to hold hearings in-person at the border to bring greater attention to the historic surge.
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There were over 1.7 million migrant encounters in FY2021, and more than 2.3 million in FY2022. FY2023 has been on track to beat those numbers. The Biden administration has said they are facing a hemisphere-wide crisis and have also blamed Congress for failing to pass a sweeping immigration bill to fix what it says is a "broken" immigration system. That legislation has struggled to find GOP support gives its inclusion of a pathway to citizenship for millions of illegal immigrants.
Recently, the administration has pointed to a drop in numbers between a historic high of 251,000 encounters in December to 156,000 in January and said it is a sign that recently-announced border measures -- which include a parole program to allow 30,000 migrants in legally each month -- are working.
Republicans have dismissed that narrative, and have blamed the administration for winding back Trump-era border policies, ending border wall construction, and narrowing interior enforcement. GOP leadership has promised to hold the administration accountable, pass legislation to fix the crisis and has raised the possibility of impeaching Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. It has also rejected administration claims that the border is "secure."
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"This field hearing will provide us with a fact-finding opportunity to ultimately make the case that the chaos and disorder at the Southwest border is a direct result of this administration’s policies and that the operational control Secretary Mayorkas asserted was present before never existed, and certainly does not now," Green said.
The hearing comes after the committee is holding a "border boot camp" this week in El Paso, Texas as well as a full committee hearing on border security on border security. It’s part of an effort to make sure lawmakers understand the ins and outs of the crisis and the policies needed to address it, ultimately resulting in stronger legislation. Republicans have also stressed the need for lawmakers to go into the communities affected by the border crisis and see the consequences first-hand to help shape necessary legislation.
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The field hearing will be one of a number of high-profile visits to the besieged border by lawmakers. Last week McCarthy visited Yuma, Arizona while Democratic House Leader Hakeem Jeffries toured the border in Laredo, Texas.
This week the House Judiciary Committee will hold an in-person hearing at the border in Yuma, Arizona. Democrats on the committee dismissed the move as a "stunt," said they were not consulted, and said they would be making their own trip to the border in March.