DHS chief can’t give ‘ballpark’ estimate on illegal immigration numbers

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DHS chief can't give 'ballpark' estimate on illegal immigration numbers

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Tuesday insisted that the US borders are closed, but couldn’t give a “ballpark” estimate on how many of the 1.3 illegal immigrants apprehended at the border this year are being held, were deported or released in the US.

“You have repeatedly stated that our borders are not open, they’re closed. Do you honestly believe that our borders are closed?” ​Sen. Ron Johnson ​(R-Wis.) asked him during a hearing before the Senate Homeland Security Committee.

“Senator, I do, and let me speak to that,” Mayorkas replied before Johnson cut him off, saying he had more questions. ​

The senator then referred to a letter sent to the Senate’s leaders by ​former US Border Patrol Chief Rodney Scott that blasted the Biden administration for its lack of enforcement of the immigration policies.

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI)
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) challenged Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas’ claim that US borders are closed.
T.J. Kirkpatrick/Pool via REUTERS

He quoted Scott in the letter saying that he has been “sickened by the avoidable and rapid disintegration of what was arguably the most effective border security in our nation’s history.” 

“I witnessed the unprecedented seismic shift in border security and immigration policy that was initiated on Jan. 20, 2021. I believe this policy shift and the associated public statements created the current border crisis,” Scott wrote in the letter.

“Contrary to the current rhetoric, this is not simply another illegal immigration surge. This is a national security threat.”

Johnson told Mayorkas that he pledged to enforce the laws, but “you have not done that,” and accused the administration of putting out “factually incorrect information.”

“I want some numbers here,” Johnson said. “How many people have been returned? How many people are being detained? How many people have been dispersed to all points around America?” 

After a few more tense exchanges, Mayorkas said he didn’t have the data.

“I’m looking for ballpark figures. Is it about half? Have we dispersed about half?” Johnson pressed.

Mayorkas eventually said he would get the figures to Johnson as time on the senator’s questioning expired. 

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