Former Immigration Officials Sound the Alarm: US Has Lost ‘Operational Control’ of the Southwest Border

By Victor Westerkamp | October 26, 2021
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WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 22: Thomas Homan, former director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, in a file photo on May 22, 2018, in Washington, DC. (Image: Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images)

On Oct. 20, three former officials who served with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the U.S. Border Patrol during the Biden, Trump, and Obama administrations told a Republican Senate panel that authorities have lost “operational control” of the U.S.-Mexico border. 

“I’ve talked to several Border Patrol chiefs who tell me they have lost operational control of the border under this president,” Thomas Homan, former Acting Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), told three Republican senators, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Rob Portman of Ohio, and Rick Scott of Florida, during a roundtable discussion concerning the situation on the U.S.–Mexican border.

“They’ve also lost respect for the commander-in-chief and the [DHS] secretary,” Homan added, whose grief was predominantly focussed on President Joe Biden’s immigration policy and his homeland security secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

Mark Morgan, chief of the U.S. Border Patrol under Obama, shared similar feelings towards the current administration.

“What happens at the southwest border does not stay at the southwest border,” Morgan said. “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 added.

“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 referred to the statements Mayorkas made during a September House Committee, where he said that the border was secure. “We’re executing our plan,” the secretary said, adding that the border “is no less secure than it was.”

Next on was Rodney Scott, who served as chief of the U.S. Border Patrol under both Biden and his predecessor, President Donald Trump.

Scott felt compelled to testify before the board “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,” he said.

Scott also argued that the problem is not limited to border security enforcement only; there’s also the psychological factor of security.

“It’s just like your home,” Scott added. “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 added.

According to Scott, the problem is, in fact, of global scope and also involves possible terrorism threats.

“When I left as [Border Patrol] chief, there were 150 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.”

Time and again, 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, to no avail.

Leo Timm contributed to this report.