House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) on Feb. 23 gaveled in the panel’s second hearing on what lawmakers have dubbed the “Biden border crisis” from Yuma, Arizona.
Republicans have long rallied against President Joe Biden’s policy in regards to the U.S.–Mexico border, where the rate of illegal immigration has hit unprecedented levels.
The border is a key region for Mexican drug cartels and their partners, who stand to gain huge profits by moving drugs and sex slaves into U.S. markets.
Americans living along the border have recounted in numerous interviews that the threat is one that they deal with daily: residents say they don’t let their children go outside alone, and never leave the houses themselves without a firearm. Citizen encounters with drug runners and cartel affiliates are commonplace along the border.
NEW: Border Patrol in Del Rio sector report agents arrested three child sex predators in 48 hours, including a Salvadoran man convicted of child rape in WA, a Mexican man convicted of lewd acts w/ child in FL, and a Salvadoran man convicted of unlawful sex w/ a child in Utah.… https://t.co/IvjZdEFgUA pic.twitter.com/W5HMLAqoW5
— Bill Melugin (@BillFOXLA) February 17, 2023
Instead of holding the hearing on Capitol Hill, Republican lawmakers gathered in Yuma, Arizona—a town just east of the state border with California and a few miles north of the international border with Mexico. Notably, half of the Judiciary panel was missing—Democrats on the committee announced in advance that they would not attend the Yuma hearing.
NEW: Last night, we were with Congressman @Jim_Jordan & the GOP-led House Judiciary Committee as they prepare to have their first field hearing on the border crisis in Yuma, AZ today. No Democrats on the committee showed up. They are boycotting & calling it a political stunt.… https://t.co/8dd159siqG pic.twitter.com/tRaePAcpMa
— Bill Melugin (@BillFOXLA) February 23, 2023
During the hearing, several Republicans explained they were holding the hearing in the border city in order to hear from those living at “ground zero” of the immigration crisis.
In his opening remarks, Jordan blasted the Democrat’s non-attendance as a “political stunt.”
“Democrats’ open border policies caused this crisis, and instead of choosing to fix it, they want to cause a stunt and play political games,” Jordan said.
Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.) was also critical of the absence.
“During the last session of Congress, Democrats couldn’t be bothered to hold a single hearing on this issue,” McClintock said. “Republicans have held two. Democrats couldn’t be bothered to show up.”
A Civilizational Threat
During the hearing, critics of Biden’s border policies painted the chaos at the border as an existential one to American civilization.
McClintock, Republicans’ first witness, said that “unprecedented illegal mass migration [is] on a scale no civilization in history has ever experienced and survived.”
McClintock placed the blame for this threat squarely on Biden’s policies.
Under President Donald Trump, the United States practiced a “Remain in Mexico” policy, under which illegal immigrants apprehended at the border were held in custody within Mexico until their asylum claims could be assessed. Biden reversed that policy on day one.
The de facto policy of the administration, though not legislatively codified, has been “catch and release,” whereby illegal immigrants apprehended by Border Patrol agents are released into the United States to await their day in court.
McClintock cited figures showing that at least 3.1 million people—roughly a tenth of a percent of the entire U.S. population—have illegally entered the country under Biden.
“3.1 million is a figure larger than [the population of] the entire state of Arkansas,” McClintock emphasized. “That’s just in the last 25 months.”
McClintock said that the massive influx of illegal immigrants was the result of “deliberate and calculated” policies from Washington.
Diminished Healthcare Quality for Americans
During the hearing, Dr. Robert Trenschel, president and CEO of the Yuma Regional Medical Center (YRMC), testified to the committee about the impact mass illegal immigration has had on the quality of medical care that Americans in Yuma are receiving.
“Our hospital saw an increase in the number of migrants seeking care beginning late fall [and] early winter 2021,” Trenschel reported.
NEW: Congressman @Jim_Jordan & Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee are meeting with leadership at Yuma’s only hospital. The CEO there says they are on verge of financial collapse after spending $20 million in 6 months providing care for illegal immigrants, predominantly… https://t.co/dlrVuFKxLw pic.twitter.com/82hC2CFcca
— Bill Melugin (@BillFOXLA) February 23, 2023
He noted that Yuma Regional Medical Center is the main hospital of only two in the area of the relatively remote border town.
“Diversion to another healthcare facility is impossible,” Trenschel explained.
Moreover, Trenschel said that for Americans living in the area, the burden of seeking care at another facility is insurmountable.
According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, Yuma has a poverty rate of 17.6 percent—several points higher than the national poverty rate of 11.6 percent.
“For many who live here, traveling out of town for care is simply an unbearable challenge,” Trenschel said. “They depend on us to be here.”
Thus, whether coming in for minor ailments or more serious concerns, Trenschel said the increase in illegal immigration strains the resources of the hospital and leads to fewer resources for legal citizens.
Hospitals Foot the Bill
Sometimes, Trenschel said, these illegal immigrants come in need of expensive and manpower-consumptive medical procedures, meaning fewer doctors and less equipment is available for American residents in the area. The hospital is required to foot the bill for many of these expenses.
“We’ve had immigrants on dialysis, cardiac catheterization, and in need of heart surgery,” he said.
The babies of illegal immigrants sometimes need a long stay in the neonatal intensive care unit, a costly level of care that is largely shifted onto taxpayers, health insurers, and the already-strained Medicare system.
In addition, Trenschel pointed to “cultural and language concerns with migrant patients.”
While he said the hospital “can work through those” on an individual basis, the cumulative effect of these linguistic and cultural barriers adds to the strain on hospital manpower.
Trenschel pointed to a concrete example of this strain on resources, saying that illegal immigrants often require three times the human resources personnel to discharge.
In cases where the situation is dire enough to warrant it, the YRMC even pays the expenses to transport illegal immigrants to other hospitals.
The cumulative effect of these expenses: between December 2021 and December 2022, the YRMC footed a bill of $26 million in expenses for illegal immigrants’ care.
“Let me assure you, that number is not an approximation,” Trenschel said.
He added, “$26 million in uncompensated care is simply not a sustainable business model.”
During later questioning, Trenschel confirmed Rep. Andy Biggs’s (R-Ariz.) question that Biden’s immigration policies require the hospital to foot the bill for transporting illegal immigrants to other facilities.
Effort to Impeach Mayorkas
While Republicans place the ultimate blame for the influx in illegal immigration on Biden’s policies, they also place a great deal of blame on Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.
On Feb. 1, Biggs submitted revised articles of impeachment against Mayorkas, calling for Mayorkas’ removal from office “for high crimes and misdemeanors.” Unlike in the last Congress, Biggs said he expects this Congress to take up the articles.
“Alejandro Nicholas Mayorkas, in his conduct while Secretary of Homeland Security, engaged in a pattern of conduct that is incompatible with his duties as an Officer of the United States,” Biggs said in the resolution.
Specifically, Biggs cited Mayorkas’ track record in overseeing the security of the border.
Mayorkas “has failed to faithfully uphold his oath and has instead presided over a reckless abandonment of border security and immigration enforcement, at the expense of the Constitution and the security of the United States,” Biggs wrote.
Specifically, Biggs said, “Secretary Mayorkas has willfully refused to maintain operational control of the border as required by the Secure Fence Act of 2006. His actions have directly led to an increase in illegal aliens and illegal narcotics, including deadly fentanyl, entering the United States.”
Because of the loss of operational control of the border, Biggs noted, in 2022 alone, enough fentanyl made its way into the United States “to kill every American 10 times over.” This year, criminals appear to be on track to import even more fentanyl across the border.
“In addition to increasing the number of illegal aliens, Secretary Mayorkas’s policies have led to a significant increase in illegal drug smuggling across the southern border,” he wrote. “In just 2 months of fiscal year 2023, more deadly fentanyl has been seized at the border than the entire amount in any year on record before. The 14,700 pounds seized at the border in fiscal year 2022 is enough to kill every American 10 times over.
“As a result of this, fentanyl is now the leading cause of death among people 18–45, and opioid deaths are at an all-time high across our Nation.”
On Feb. 8, Biggs held an event calling for Mayorkas’ impeachment.
Mayorkas further faces allegations of lying to or misleading members of Congress—a criminal offense.
“Secretary Mayorkas definitely needs to be impeached,” Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) said during the event.
The Heritage Foundation’s Mark Morgan, one of the panelists, agreed, calling Mayorkas “the key architect” of the administration’s border policies.
However, it remains unclear how Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) will proceed with any articles of impeachment against Mayorkas.
In the past, McCarthy has been ambiguous in his replies about impeaching Biden or any of his appointed officials.
“We won’t play politics with it,” McCarthy said in October 2022 ahead of the expected GOP takeover of the lower chamber in the midterms.