Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, sparred with Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas during a Senate hearing Thursday, saying his refusal to treat the border crisis like a crisis is “extremely damning.”
Romney grilled Mayorkas over the crisis at the southern border during a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee meeting. The Utah Republican pointed out that apprehensions of illegal migrants have “skyrocketed” since Biden took office.
Mayorkas and Romney exchanged heated words, culminating in the senator asking if the secretary believes that the crisis at the border “is not a problem then.”
“Your view is this is the way it’s going to be,” Romney said, pointing to a chart illustrating the spike in border apprehensions.
“If I may, senator,” Mayorkas responded. “They have a claim under the law for humanitarian relief either [through] their claim of asylum or their claim for special immigrant juvenile status.”
“And we can, in fact, meet the challenge,” Mayorkas continued before being cut off by Romney again, who eviscerated him for not recognizing the charts as “being a problem.”
“What I find astonishing, Mr. Chairman, is that we have the secretary responsible for securing our border and immigration system who doesn’t recognize these charts as being a problem,” Romney said. “And there are human beings behind these numbers.”
“I find that extraordinary and extremely damning,” he added.
Mayorkas also infuriated other senators by suggesting that it was the Trump administration that sparked the massive surge at the southern border.
The secretary said the surge of migrants actually first began in April 2020.
Mayorkas explained that the Trump administration did nothing to address the surge last spring and tore down programs that could “help alleviate the pressure” at the border.
Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, responded, saying that he has respect for the secretary but could not sit in the hearing “and not comment on this idea that somehow this is Donald Trump’s fault.”
Portman elaborated, saying that due to the COVID pandemic, it was right to turn people away from the border.
“I mean, you can say that the Trump administration should have been letting children in, but you have said, instead, you think it was inhumane what they were doing by turning children away based on Title 42, which said basically during the COVID-19 period we weren’t gonna let folks in,” said Portman.
Mayorkas was also asked by Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., if he was “disappointed” that Vice President Kamala Harris hasn’t visited the border, to which Mayorkas responded “absolutely not,” explaining it was the job Harris tasked to him.