US Has 'Lost Operational Control' of Southwest Border, Senate GOP Panel Told

US Has 'Lost Operational Control' of Southwest Border, Senate GOP Panel Told
Then-Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Chairman Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), left, and ranking member Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.), right, in Washington during a hearing on Dec. 18, 2019. (Samuel Corum/Getty Images)
Mark Tapscott

Federal officials "have lost complete control" of the southwest border under President Joe Biden and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, three former high-ranking immigration enforcement officials told a panel of Republican senators on Oct. 20.

"We have lost complete control of the border. I've talked to several Border Patrol chiefs who tell me they have lost operational control of the border under this president," former Acting Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Thomas Homan told three Republican senators during a roundtable discussion of the situation on the U.S.–Mexican border.

"They've also lost respect for the commander-in-chief and the [DHS] secretary," Homan told Sens. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Rob Portman of Ohio, and Rick Scott of Florida.

Johnson said in his opening statement that he convened the roundtable discussion after Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.), who is chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, declined to convene a hearing on the border crisis.

A committee spokesman for Peters didn't immediately respond to a request by The Epoch Times for comment on Johnson's claim. Johnson had preceded Peters as committee chairman prior to Democrats' gaining control of the chamber in the 2020 election.

Homan's intense criticism of Biden and Mayorkas was affirmed by Mark Morgan, who was chief of the U.S. Border Patrol during the Obama administration, and Rodney Scott, who served in the same role under both Biden and his predecessor, President Donald Trump.

Morgan told the senators that "what happens at the southwest border does not stay at the southwest border."

"Every town, city, and state in this country is a border town, city, and state. If you have a drug overdose from fentanyl, take it to the bank that the fentanyl came from the southwest border," he said.

"Almost every day I get up, as an American, angry. Why? Because I know because I've been there, this administration is way beyond not being transparent. They are lying to the American people."

With "400,000 'gotaways' this fiscal year, 1.9 million total enforcement encounters, an all-time record high, so if the secretary were sitting in front of me right now, I would say 'Mr. Secretary, stop lying to the American people,'" Morgan said.

Morgan was referring to Mayorkas's comment to a House committee in September that “the border is secure. We're executing our plan,” and that the border today "is no less secure than it was" under Trump. "Gotaways" are illegal immigrants who come into the United States and are not apprehended by U.S. law enforcement officials.

A White House press office representative didn't immediately respond to request for a response to Morgan's comment.

Scott said he agreed to appear before the panel because he wanted "to bring attention to the irresponsible and reckless policies that are being implemented by the current administration on the border despite being advised otherwise by professional border security personnel that have been involved in this for decades."

The immigration aspect of the issues involved in border security is only one area of a broader scope of issues that involve national security, he said.

"It's just like your home; it's exactly like your home. If we don't know and can't control who and what is in our home, we have no security. If we don't know who and what are in our country, then we have no homeland security," Scott said.

"When I left as [Border Patrol] chief, there were 15o nationalities mixed in. It's not just the Haitians you hear people talking about, or just the South Americans, it's 150 different nations, many of which are directly involved in or ignoring terrorism threats."

The Biden transition team was briefed "by border security professionals ... that if they rescinded the commonsense policies that were put in place recently, if they stopped building the border wall, we all predicted that there would be a mass migration," Scott said.

The roundtable also heard testimony from two mothers, one of whom lost a daughter to fentanyl and the other who lost a son in a traffic accident caused by an illegal alien driving without a license.

Virginia Krieger of Cleveland, Ohio, president of the Fentanyl Awareness Coalition, told the senators that her 27-year-old daughter, Tiffany, died in 2015 as a result of ingesting what she thought was a Percocet capsule but, in fact, was a highly toxic dose of fentanyl.

"Tiffany didn't seek to use fentanyl. Tiffany didn't really have any issues at all before that day," Krieger said. "And now, we have an entirely new population of young people dying, being affected by the fentanyl crisis that we have never before seen in this country. And they are the non-addicted victims."

Krieger said young people "are getting counterfeit pills, either given to them by a friend or being purchased from an online platform like Snapchat that make these pills available to anyone with a smartphone, including children as young as 12."

Mexican drug cartels smuggle billions of dollars worth of illegal drugs, including fentanyl, into the United States every year, with 95 percent of it coming across the southwest border, Morgan said.

Similarly, Sabine Durden-Coulter of Riverside, California, said her son, Dominic, was on his way to work as a 911 communications officer when he was killed in 2012.

"He was killed by an illegal alien, repeat offender, a felon with armed robbery convictions, no driver's license, and two DUIs he received that he received probation for," Durden-Coulter told the panel.

"The man made a deal with the judge and was charged with vehicle manslaughter without gross negligence and received nine months, with five years probation. And he served 35 days.

"If the immigration laws that were on the books would have been upheld the first time they had him, the second time, the third time, I wouldn't be here and my son would still be enjoying his beautiful life and thousands of other families like mine wouldn't know this grief and pain."

Mark Tapscott is an award-winning investigative editor and reporter who covers Congress, national politics, and policy for The Epoch Times. Mark was admitted to the National Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Hall of Fame in 2006 and he was named Journalist of the Year by CPAC in 2008. He was a consulting editor on the Colorado Springs Gazette’s Pulitzer Prize-winning series “Other Than Honorable” in 2014.