WASHINGTON — House Republican leaders are demanding records from the Biden administration about a recent visit by GOP members to the southwest border, alleging that officials are trying to hide the extent to which an influx of undocumented migrants is straining border control facilities.
In a three-page letter sent Thursday to Department of Homeland Security officials, the leaders wrote that the congressional delegation decided to visit the border checkpoint in Eagle Pass, Texas, on Dec. 20 after seeing reports that nearly 10,000 migrants were in detention. there — more than twice the facility’s capacity.
House Speaker Mike Johnson’s office told DHS officials later that day that he wanted to lead a congressional delegation to tour the site. When 60 House GOP members showed up two weeks later, the Border Patrol told them fewer than 600 people were in custody, the letter said.
The total number of illegal border crossings along the southwest border dropped sharply at the beginning of the New Year, including at the Eagle crossing. The Border Patrol apprehended just over 2,500 migrants on New Year’s Day, compared to more than 10,000 migrants on certain days in late December. The Del Rio sector of the border, which includes the Eagle Crossing, was only 15 percent full of detained migrants in early January, according to data obtained by NBC News.
In a post On the social media site X on Jan. 2, the day before the lawmakers arrived, Johnson wrote that the Biden administration had moved the migrants “to keep them away from camera footage during the @HouseGOP visit to Eagle Pass. “
Johnson’s post includes two side-by-side images: One shows a crowd of migrants sitting on grass; the other depicts the same location, which appears to be empty.
“Media reports have suggested that DHS took these steps to hide the truth from members of Congress,” Johnson, R-La., said in a letter signed by Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, and Homeland Security Committee Chairman. Mark Green, R-Tenn.
The Department of Homeland Security did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Arrests for illegal border crossing dropped earlier this monthU.S. officials said Mexico is stepping up enforcement.
The letter, first obtained by NBC News, also alleges border control officials interfered with congressional oversight responsibilities by trying to prevent 60 visiting lawmakers from taking pictures. Once, when a lawmaker asked why border control officials were taking pictures but members of Congress were barred from doing so, an official replied, “We’re the government,” the letter said.
“Simply put, the DHS effort It is unacceptable to obstruct and obstruct our efforts to engage Congress in oversight of the executive branch,” the letter said.
The authors requested documents and correspondence from National Security officials related to the congressional visit, as well as “every effort to divert or delay the entry of foreign nationals en route to the United States who may enter Eagle Pass, Texas, and/or the United States. Del Rio Sector.”
They gave the department until January 19 to provide information.
House leaders have also requested documents referencing regulations on taking pictures at Border Patrol facilities.
Green’s committee is holding hearings on what’s possible impeachment of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mallorca. House Republicans blame him for illegal border crossings and an increase in the flow of fentanyl from Mexico to the United States.
No member of the US Cabinet has been impeached since the administration of Ulysses S. Grant in the 19th century. Democrats and some lawyers protested that there was no basis for impeachment of Majorca.