Democratic and Republican congressmen at the five-hour Congressional hearing on the border could agree America’s southern border had problems but disagreed about nearly everything else.
The hearing opened with an hour-and-a-half-long argument about whether to say the Pledge of Allegiance.
Then, committee chair Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) rattled off a staggering list of statistics on how much illegal immigration has increased under President Joe Biden’s administration.
Since Biden took office, over 4.5 million illegal immigrants have crossed the border, he said. At least 38 of these people showed up on terrorist screening databases. Meanwhile, 193 Americans die of fentanyl overdose every day, he finished.
Then, Jordan got personal.
“These numbers make clear that the Biden administration does not have operational control over the border,” he said. “Frankly, I think it’s intentional.”
Rep. Jerry Nadler, the highest ranking Democrat on the committee, responded by accusing the Republican Congressional majority of being “haphazard” and “racist.”
“It almost makes me miss their usual obsession with conspiracy theories and the FBI,” he said.
Throughout the hearing, Democrats charged Republicans with alleged racism and “fear-mongering” multiple times.
Testimony from the Border
The hearing interviewed three witnesses for their testimony on border security and the impact of fentanyl.
Mark Dannels, the sheriff of Cochise County, Arizona, provided testimony that backed the Republican focus on border security.
He noted that under former President Donald Trump, the border was more secure.
“It was better under President Trump. This is the worst I’ve seen,” he said of the border.
But he added that all the security in the world won’t make any difference if the Biden administration doesn’t enforce the laws already on the books.
“By allowing our border security mission and immigration laws to be discretionary, these criminal cartels continue to be the true winners. Their exploitation of mankind is simply modern-day slavery, allowing thousands of pounds of illicit drugs into our country,” he said.
Democrat-turned-Republican Congressman Jefferson Van Drew (N.J.) noted that Biden has not enforced the law while responding to rising illegal immigration on the border.
“No country that’s ultimately successful for a long period of time can have open borders,” he said.
Others questioned if Congress’s approach so far would fix the border. Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) said it’s doubtful whether more money spent on border security would make a difference.
“We spend more money today on the Border Patrol than ever before in the history of the country. We spend more money on immigration enforcement than all other federal law enforcement combined. So, it’s not as if we’re unwilling to pay for enforcement. But I note that the wall that some feel to be the answer, on average, was breached last year once every 11 minutes. It was breached over 4,000 times,” she said.
Accusations of Cruelty
Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.) accused Republicans of lacking compassion for vulnerable illegal immigrants.
“The Republican position on immigration is to inflict as much cruelty as possible on people fleeing persecution,” she said.
Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Ca.) blamed previous Congressional sessions and Republicans for the lack of improvement at the border.
“The only folks that can actually fix this problem is United States Congress by passing laws. And we had a chance to do that with a Bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform bill that passed the U.S. Senate on a bipartisan basis. And guess who stopped it? House Republicans.”
Democrats controlled the House from 2020 to 2022.
The second witness was Ricardo Samaniego, a judge in El Paso. He insisted that he saw no border crisis in his city.
“There is no open border in El Paso,” he said. “There is no invasion of migrants in our community.”
“Claiming this continues a false, racist narrative against those individuals who perpetuate violence that the El Paso community is all too familiar with,” he added.
Nadler said the government finds the most fentanyl at legal ports of entry. He concluded this statistic meant that un-intercepted fentanyl also enters America through legal ports.
“Most drugs pass through ports of entry,” Nadler said. “Let’s fix the problems where they are, not where Fox News talking heads imagine them to be.”
Several Democrats suggested the border situation could be improved by making it easier for people to enter America legally.
The final witness Brandon Dunn, who founded the Forever 15 Project, a group that tries to prevent child drug overdoses, said that his son Noah died after he unknowingly took a pill with fentanyl in it.
“He was an athlete. He played football. He was an honor roll student. He was a friend. He had so many friends. He was exposed to it by somebody he considered a friend,” his father said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), fentanyl overdoses are driving the rising drug deaths.
Between 2013 and 2020, overdose numbers increased by 18 times, the CDC noted.
Some states even want to classify the distribution of fentanyl linked to drug overdoses as a felony, as previously reported.
Dunn told the committee he didn’t care how most fentanyl was entering the country. If some of it passes into America in the backpacks of illegal immigrants, he wants that supply ended too.
Fentanyl can be mixed into any illicit drug, he said.
“You have to assume that everything is dangerous now. Fentanyl has been mixed with everything,” he said.
Every congressman who addressed Dunn told him they were sorry for his loss. Then, they went back to making whatever point they entered the hearing to make.