- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats provided a pessimistic picture of continuing flows of illegal immigrants to the southern border during his appearance before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

But while Republicans asked him a series of questions about Russia, China and cybersecurity under the hearing’s agenda of “Worldwide Threats,” none brought up what President Trump calls a border “crisis.”

The Jan. 29 hearing came at a time when Mr. Trump has made border security, with some type of barrier, his top priority.

Some intelligence chiefs at the witness table had prepared answers, but no questions came. In theory, the hearing presented the opportunity for Republicans to create a sound bite that would help Mr. Trump sell ramped-up border security.

The Washington Times received no response from spokespersons for Republican Sens. Richard Burr of North Carolina, the committee chairman; John Cornyn of Texas; and Tom Cotton of Arkansas.

As another Central American caravan headed to the U.S., Mr. Coats included border security in his opening statement on Worldwide Threats — an inclusion that indicates he believes the unabated flow of migrants is a national security threat.

He testified that the intelligence community see no signs of mass migration stopping.

“We assessed that Mexico, under new leadership, will pursue cooperation with the United States as it tries to reduce violence and address socioeconomic issues, but authorities still do not have the capability to fully address the reduction, the flow, and trafficking of the drug cartels,” Mr. Coats said. “High crime rates and weak job markets will continue to spur U.S. bound migrants from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.”

During the hearing, no one said the word “border.” Besides Mr. Coats’ one statement, the issue of migrants only came up in reference to civil and economic disorder in Venezuela.

Mr. Burr mentioned in his opening statement threats such as diseases and natural disasters. He didn’t mention threats associated with the porous border, such as drug cartels, sex traffickers and violent gangs.

“Hostile nation states, terrorist organizations, malign cyber actors and even infectious disease and natural disasters at different times have been the focus of the intelligence community’s efforts,” Mr. Burr said. “Our intelligence officers have repeatedly proven themselves equal to the task of refocusing, reconfiguring and relearning the business of intelligence to keep pace with a threat landscape that’s never static.”

Mr. Burr opened a probe into Trump-Russia two years ago. There is no indication when it will be completed.

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