Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Wednesday criticized a question by Representative Kat Cammack (R., Fla.) regarding the southern border crisis as “extraordinarily disrespectful.”
During a House Committee on Homeland Security hearing on Wednesday, Cammack told the story of her high school classmate who was “kidnapped by an illegal who had been deported multiple times” in 2006, according to Fox News.
The Republican said that when policies “incentivize” illegal immigration without “proper mechanisms in place to protect our borders” that the impact has “resounding effects.”
She asked “how many more” people like her classmate “have to be kidnapped across America” before Mayorkas decides to “take action.”
Mayorkas called the question “extraordinarily disrespectful.”
“Disrespectful not only to me, but disrespectful to the men and women of the Department of Homeland Security and to all the front-line personnel across this country who dedicate themselves to the safety and security of the American people,” he responded.
“I’m sorry that you feel that way,” Cammack replied. “I’m sure the American people feel very disrespected about the border situation they’re facing right now.”
Cammack also pressed Mayorkas to acknowledge that “it would stand to reason” that the U.S. is in an “emergency” since the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) has been deployed to the border.
However, keeping with administration officials’ reticence to label the situation at the border an “emergency” or “crisis,” the secretary said the department is “tackling” the “very serious challenge” at the southern border.
Cammack pressed: “So, FEMA being the emergency management administration, they deal with emergencies and they are now being deployed to the border and it’s not an emergency? Is that what I’m hearing?”
“The men and women of FEMA have tremendous operational capabilities” to handle the “challenges” that arise in missions, Mayorkas responded.
His comments follow a statement on Tuesday in which he called the situation at the border “difficult” and noted that the U.S. is “on pace to encounter more individuals on the southwest border than we have in the last 20 years.”
While the statement said “poverty, high levels of violence and corruption in Mexico and the Northern Triangle countries” are to blame for the influx, and have “propelled migration to our southwest border for years,” Republicans have said it is Biden who is at fault for the surge, after he loosened immigration restrictions.
Biden rescinded the Trump-era Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) and reinstated “catch and release.” Experts say Biden’s plan to create a pathway to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants has served as an incentive for migrants to attempt to cross the border.
The Biden administration is struggling to get a grip on the rapidly deteriorating situation at the border: the number of migrant children in custody along the border has tripled in the past two weeks to more than 3,250 and of that more than 1,360 have been held for longer than the allowed three days, according to the report.
Customs and Border Protection (CBP) said there were roughly 100,000 apprehensions at the border last month.