Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas will take the witness seat in Congress on Tuesday facing new questions about the Biden administration’s handling of the border crisis and his own truthfulness in previous testimony about efforts to control the surge of illegal immigrants.
Sen. James Lankford released a letter late Monday night saying Mr. Mayorkas told senators in September that illegal immigrants who were being caught and released without an immigration court date, and who failed to show up at an ICE office within 60 days of their release, were “a priority” for deportation.
But Mr. Lankford, Oklahoma Republican, says a new initiative by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement says just the opposite, telling more than 78,000 migrants who were released without court dates and who have ignored the 60-day check-in window that they won’t, in fact, be arrested.
“Those documents read: ‘Don’t worry if you are past the 60-day deadline to report from the time you entered the United States. Come in so you can help ensure the best outcome for your case,’ ” the senator wrote.
He said Mr. Mayorkas has until Dec. 1 to prove he’s sticking by his testimony that illegal immigrants who fail to check in as required are in fact priorities for deportation.
Mr. Mayorkas will testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday.
On Monday, Homeland Security released new border operations numbers showing the migrant surge dissipated slightly in October — though it still shattered previous records for the month, which is usually among the quieter times along the border.
This October, Border Patrol agents made about 159,000 arrests. In records dating back to the start of this century, no previous October had even topped 100,000.
The numbers were still an improvement over the summer, when the Border Patrol regularly flirted with 200,000 monthly arrests.
Sen. Charles E. Grassley, the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, will tell Mr. Mayorkas he’s running his department “like it’s an #AbolishICE fan club.”
The #AbolishIce movement was a push by far-left Democrats to erase the department’s chief deportation and interior enforcement agency.
“Make no mistake,” Mr. Grassley will say, according to his prepared remarks. “This crisis is a direct result of the irresponsible, reckless, and dangerous immigration policies pursued by the Biden Administration, Secretary Mayorkas, and political leadership at DHS headquarters, ICE, and CBP.”