House Republicans subpoena Mayorkas over migrant numbers

House Judiciary Committee Republicans subpoenaed Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas shortly before the Senate dismissed articles of impeachment against him.

The subpoena issued by Judiciary Committee Chair Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) asks the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to turn over a breakdown of how many “illegal aliens” have been permitted to enter the country during the Biden administration.

Much of that information is publicly available on the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) website, though the definitions of who constitutes an “illegal alien” — the term Jordan uses in the subpoena — can be complicated.

According to the Migration Policy Institute (MPI), from January 2021 to January 2024, U.S. border officials reported 6.3 million encounters at the southwest border with migrants who had no prior authorization to enter the United States.

From those encounters, more than 2.4 million migrants were allowed into the country, according to the MPI.

That number includes undocumented immigrants released with a notice to appear and orders of deportation, migrants who successfully filed an asylum application, parolees, and beneficiaries of other humanitarian programs.

According to the MPI, about 2.3 million people in the United States live under “liminal statuses” — not quite undocumented, not permanently and formally authorized.

The subpoena comes after the DHS asserted in a March letter to the committee that “[m]uch of the information requested by the Committee is already publicly available.”

Jordan and Mayorkas have butted heads for years at oversight hearings, often over the parsing of southwest border crossing figures.

“DHS has regularly communicated and been transparent with the committee in response to their requests, including providing extensive data. The Department has also said that we will provide further information as it becomes available. Instead of working with us, as DHS has repeatedly requested, the Committee has yet again escalated to a subpoena that serves no purpose beyond political posturing,” a DHS spokesperson told The Hill.

“DHS will continue cooperating with Congressional oversight requests, all while faithfully working to protect our nation from terrorism and targeted violence, secure our borders, respond to natural disasters, defend against cyberattacks, and more.”

The department publishes monthly statistics on its encounters at the border.

Republicans have projected the Biden administration has admitted about 4.6 million migrants — a figure that comes from their own research laid out in an October report — all of whom the House GOP categorizes as “illegal aliens.”

The GOP report does not distinguish between migrants who apply for asylum or who receive parole from migrants detained at the border and released into the country with a notice to appear.

“In seeking to downplay the seriousness of the immigration crisis, Secretary Mayorkas and congressional Democrats have framed illegal aliens at the border as asylum seekers who are removed from the country if they do not have a valid claim,” according to the report, published by the Judiciary Committee.

The report also labels the Biden administration’s parole programs as “illegal” and claims the administration designated Venezuela for Temporary Protected Status “to boost the magnet for illegal immigration.”

While the Biden administration has boasted of carrying out more removals than DHS did under the Trump administration, it has faced higher levels of migration at the southern border.

For instance, the Biden administration carried out about 2.8 million expulsions under the Trump-era Title 42 border policy, though those expulsions often led to new attempts to cross the border by the same migrants.

But border officials under Biden dealt with about 6.5 million encounters over the first three years of the administration, while the Trump administration managed a relatively paltry 2.4 million encounters, in large part due to a massive drop in crossing attempts in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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