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EL PASO, Texas – EXCLUSIVE: Republicans on the House Select Committee on Intelligence are raising the alarm about “grave” national security threats facing Americans due to the destabilized southern border.
Fox News Digital exclusively interviewed members of the congressional delegation following their law enforcement briefings and line tour along the El Paso, Texas, border with Mexico Friday.
Rep. Mike Turner, R-Ohio, who serves as the ranking member on the committee, said that, counter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas’ claim earlier this week, the border “is not secure.”
“We met with the FBI, the Texas Department of Safety, the Border Patrol. What’s clear as we stand here on the border is that the border is not secure. Thousands of people are being apprehended a day, others cannot even be captured. The amount of drugs, even guns, that go across the border, cash, illegal activity, human trafficking. The toll that’s happening on people who are crossing this border is extraordinary,” Turner told Fox News Digital while standing next to the border wall with Mexico.
Rep. Mike Turner, R-Ohio, said simply that counter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas’ claim earlier this week, the border “is not secure.” (Kelly Laco/Fox News Digital)
“This represents a national security threat. The number of people who are crossing who are not from Mexico, Central America, or even South America is enormous. These individuals are a threat to our national security. Many are from countries that have very questionable purposes when they come here. So our border patrol are overwhelmed. They need assistance. This wall needs to be completed.
“What we heard repeatedly today and yesterday was the portions of the wall that had been built worked. And some areas since the [Biden] administration stopped construction of the wall have gaps in them where wall was being repaired or replaced and those repairs even stopped. So today you have a porous border, you have a great risk to our nation.”
The number of terrorists coming across the border poses an “absolute threat and danger” to the U.S., continued Turner.
“You have people who are on the terrorism watch list, people who are known terrorists, there is a threat of them crossing the border. People who have been apprehended fall within those categories,” he said. “This represents an absolute threat and danger to our country, and it could be stopped if this border wall was completed. If we gave [Border Patrol] the right resources, we could be able to stop these border crossings and, of course, keep our country safe.”
El Paso new and old border walls meet between the U.S. and Mexico. (Kelly Laco/Fox News Digital)
Mayorkas Tuesday said the border is “secure” and “we are working to make the border more secure. That has been a historic challenge.”
He then faulted lawmakers who have said they won’t commit to broad immigration legislation until the situation is addressed.
“I have said to a number of legislators who expressed to me that we need to address the challenge at the border before they pass legislation and I take issue with the math of holding the solution hostage until the problem is resolved,” he said.
“There is work to be done,” he said before adding that “safe and secure are two different words.”
“There are smugglers that operate on the Mexican side of the border and placing one’s life in their hands is not safe,” he said.
Turner also discussed the trafficking of American guns into Mexico, which is doing little to nothing to stem the tide of migrants before they reach the U.S. border.
“What’s amazing is when you hear stories about how destabilizing the gun smuggling into Mexico is, the smuggling of cash, the smuggling of drugs into the United States, the human trafficking into the United States, the cartels that are operating within Mexico, the violence that occurs along the way as people are being smuggled into the United States.”
“What’s amazing is what the Biden administration is saying is just not true. This border is not secure,” he said
Rep. Rick Crawford, R-Ark., described the horror of human trafficking. “I talked with a couple individual agents and all of them have encountered this taking place,” he said. “Young girls being sexually abused. They are a commodity to the cartels, they are a renewable resource. Every bit is valuable, if not more than the drugs that they are trafficking.
United States border, El Paso, Texas. (Kelly Laco/Fox News Digital)
Crawford echoed Turner, telling Fox News Digital, “The message coming from DHS Secretary Mayorkas is absolutely false. The border is not secure and border patrol will tell you that, and they need more help.
“We’re seeing an uptick in fentanyl, I think that’s one of the most pressing concerns in regard to drug trafficking,” he said. “But I think broadly speaking, the border patrol is limited with the resources they have. They can only do so much. We have to take a more holistic approach to how we address border security that involves ICE and the courts so that we apprehend these border crossers, but then we can detain them and actually have the bed space to do that, and then adjudicate them and send them back.
The congressman summed up what he would recommend the Biden administration do in order to solve these issues.
“My advice would be come down here, see for yourself and engage with border patrol agents and find out what a fantastic job they’re doing. You put them in a very unenviable position. They’re having rocks thrown at them on one side, and negative rhetoric from the American people. So come down and talk to them yourself and you’ll find out they’re fine people.”
Rep. Brad Wenstrup, R-Ohio, also disagreed with the Biden administration’s assessment that the border is secure, saying Biden must “pay attention to what is going on here, and pay attention to what’s going on throughout the country as a result.”
United States border, El Paso, Texas. (Kelly Laco/Fox News Digital)
Wenstrup, a physician, told Fox News Digital that he’s concerned about the rise in fentanyl smuggling from Mexico into the U.S.
“As a physician in Congress, fentanyl has some great medicinal uses, and we don’t want to lose that. At the same time, it’s extremely dangerous and too many Americans are dying,” he said. “And so I look at it almost as a weapon of mass destruction that’s coming across our border and I worried about it being used in other nefarious ways.”
He also said China must stop sending fentanyl precursors to Mexico for the cartels to develop and then traffic across the border.
“The administration is turning a blind eye to all the needs and also turning a blind eye to the effects this is having on all of America, not just our border towns,” said Wenstrup.
Fox News’ Adam Shaw and Peter Hasson contributed to this piece.
Kelly Laco is a politics editor for Fox News Digital. Story tips can be sent to Kelly.Laco@Fox.com and on Twitter: @kelly_laco.