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Lawmakers scrutinize Biden Administration policies along U.S. southern border

Head of Border Patrol says United States does not have "operational control."

WASHINGTON — The head of U.S. Border Patrol says the United States does not have "operational control" of its southern border.

That contradicts a stance previously taken by the Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas.

Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz testified on Wednesday before the House Homeland Security Committee at a field hearing in McAllen, Texas.

Republican lawmakers repeatedly tried to get Ortiz to say that there is a link between Biden Administration immigration policies and a recent spike in undocumented migrants crossing the southwest border. 

Rep. Mark Green (R-Tennessee) said to Oritz: "My question, you heard the Secretary. He said we have operational control. That's the definition."

Ortiz replied: "Based upon the definition you have there, no."

Green continued: "You don't have operational control?"

Ortiz replied: "No sir."

Ortiz said there were more than two million migrant encounters along the 2,000-mile U.S.-Mexico border in 2022, and around 900,000 so far this year.

None of the 15 Democratic members of the committee attended the hearing.

In a statement, the committee's ranking Democrat, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Mississippi) said: “After careful consideration, Committee Democrats have decided not to participate in the Republicans’ field hearing this week. Unfortunately, it has become clear that Republicans planned to politicize this event from the start, breaking with the committee’s proud history of bipartisanship. Instead of a fact-finding mission to develop better border security and immigration policies, Republicans are traveling to the border to attack the administration and try to score political points with their extreme rhetoric — despite having voted against the resources border personnel need.” 

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