On March 28th, 2023, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on border security, with Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas testifying. The possibility of impeaching Secretary Mayorkas was raised by several Republicans, including House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, prompting his office to hire attorneys to prepare for the possibility. Speaker McCarthy has also suggested that Secretary Mayorkas should resign instead. The concerns raised by Republican lawmakers centered around the crisis at the southern border, while most Democrats focused on other aspects of national security.
During the hearing, Senator Ted Cruz, R-Texas, engaged in a heated exchange with Secretary Mayorkas that lasted over ten minutes. Senator Cruz began by asking if he believed there was a crisis at the southern border, to which Mayorkas responded that there was a “very significant challenge,” but stopped short of calling it a crisis. Cruz then cited a statement from Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz, who had stated at a recent House hearing that there was a crisis at the southern border and that it was not under control.
Senator Cruz also questioned Mayorkas about the number of migrant deaths at the southern border, to which the Secretary claimed that he did not know. Cruz presented a chart showing a significant increase in deaths since 2021, from an average of around 300 a year between 1998 and 2020, skyrocketing to over 850 thereafter. He also questioned Mayorkas about the number of children who were sexually assaulted at the southern border during the Biden administration.
Senator Cruz noted another chart showing an increase of over 450,000 “got-a-ways” since President Biden took office, making it impossible to determine how many criminals, including terrorists, have entered the country illegally. During the questioning, Senator Cruz showed Secretary Mayorkas a photograph of wristbands that cartels use to track the people they traffic into the United States, with different wristbands for different purposes. Mayorkas claimed that he did not know what they were.