Local Arizona Leaders Detail Reality of Border Crisis at Hearing Democrats Boycotted
The House Judiciary Committee held a hearing at the southern border Thursday focused on the effects of the border crisis on a local Arizona community. “The Biden Border Crisis,” marked the second hearing the committee held on the situation at the southern border this Congress.
“It’s about time we told the truth. It’s about time we fix this problem,” Rep. Jefferson Van Drew, R-N.J., said of the border crisis during an interview with The Daily Signal shortly before the hearing began.
“And here’s the bottom line,” Van Drew added, “it is fixable. We don’t have to have this happen. This was self-created by President [Joe] Biden, by Secretary [of Homeland Security] Alejandro Mayorkas, and this administration.”
The committee held the hearing in Yuma County, located about 150 miles southwest of Phoenix. The city has a population of about 207,000 and is a large agricultural community.
Members of Congress heard from three witnesses at the hearing, all of whom are well acquainted with the ways in which the surge of illegal aliens crossing the border is affecting their community: Jonathan Lines, a Yuma County district supervisor, Yuma County Sheriff Leon Wilmot, and Dr. Robert Trenschel, president and CEO of the Yuma Regional Medical Center.
Following opening remarks from House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, witnesses detailed the reality of the border crisis in Yuma County, and GOP members committed to do all in their power to stop the surge of migrants crossing the border illegally while taking swings at the Biden administration and their Democrat colleagues.
Democrats Boycott Hearing
As GOP members took notes and asked questions of the witnesses, Democrats were noticeably missing from the hearing.
“It’s a shame that not one Democrat member of Congress would join us on this trip despite having weeks of advance notice,” Jordan said.
House Judiciary Committee Democrat members boycotted Thursday’s hearing, with Ranking Member Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., calling the hearing a “stunt” and claiming there was “no consultation with Judiciary Democrats.”
“Judiciary Republicans will once again not hear from any federal government witnesses at their hearing, further cementing this hearing as a brazen act of political grandstanding,” Nadler and Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., said in a joint statement last week.
Jordan responded to Nadler and Jayapal’s remarks during the hearing, saying that “Democrats dismissed the experiences of these real people…, people affected by the Biden border crisis, and Democrats seem to believe that solutions can only come from bureaucrats in Washington. We actually think they come from the American people.”
“Let me go through the roster of who’s not here,” Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., said before reading the names of every Democratic on the House Judiciary Committee.
“Until we start putting names and holding people accountable, we’re not going to get anywhere close to our goal,” Gosar said, referring to the goal of securing the border.
Nadler’s office did not respond to The Daily Signal’s request for comment regarding the Democrat’s decision to not attend the hearing.
‘Numbers Don’t Lie’
“Numbers don’t lie,” Jordan said, as he went on to say, “The number of encounters this January last month was more than a third higher than the last two Januaries of the Trump administration combined.”
Customs and Border Protection reports 156,274 encounters of illegal migrants at the border in January. That number was 35,905 in January of 2018 and 58,317 in January 2019.
In fiscal year 2022, which ended Sept. 30, Customs and Border Protection reported a record 2.3 million land encounters with migrants at the southern border. With over 870,000 total encounters between Oct. 1 and Jan. 31 (the first four months of fiscal year 2023), CBP encounters with illegal aliens are on track to overtake the previous year’s numbers.
Customs and Border Protection also reports that it seized just over 14,000 pounds of fentanyl in fiscal year 2022 and more than 12,000 pounds between October and the end of January.
“Americans are dying as a result, a direct result, of President Biden’s open border policies,” Jordan said.
A $26 Million Hospital Bill
Republicans listened as Trenschel, president and CEO of the Yuma Regional Medical Center, explained to the Judiciary Committee that his hospital is owed $26 million for medical services provided to illegal immigrants.
“We do not treat anyone differently and we take pride in that,” Trenschel said of his hospital. “If your mother or grandchild walks through our doors, or if a migrant walks through our doors, they’ll receive the same level of care.”
Trenschel said many of the migrants who have walked through the doors of the hospital in Yuma have serious health conditions that require surgery or extended stays at the hospital.
“Migrants often require three times the amount of human resources to resolve their cases and provide them with a safe discharge,” the hospital president said.
The most common type of patient among the migrants is maternity patients. The number of migrant women coming to the hospital to deliver a baby has led to the hospital having to reschedule planned deliveries for people in the community.
“Our reality is this: we have delivered over $26 million in uncompensated care to these individuals in a 12-month period from December 21 to November 22 ,” Trenschel said. “That’s an auditable figure. Let me assure you, this is not an approximation. That number comes from a detailed review of unpaid patient bills directly attributed to migrant patients.”
So far, according to Trenschel, the federal government has not refunded the hospital for any of the care provided.
Mayorkas ‘Will Lie to the American People’
“Has Secretary Mayorkas ever lied to you?” Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., asked Lines, a Yuma County district supervisor.
“Yes,” Lines answered.
“And what was the substance of that lie?”
Lines answered that he had the opportunity to meet with Mayorkas about a year ago and Mayorkas, after reviewing the border, Mayorkas committed to “specifically address… nine of the 11 Yuma gaps.”
“And how many of those gaps have been addressed?” Gaetz asked.
“To date so far? None,” Lines said, adding, “we see infrastructure on two. And yet they will not deter anyone.”
Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., has introduced articles of impeachment against Mayorkas, but the House Judiciary Committee has not yet scheduled an impeachment hearing.
“Secretary Mayorkas has to come and answer our questions,” Gaetz said, adding that “If he’ll lie to Mr. Lines and lie to the community here, then he will lie to us and he will lie to the American people. And that’s why I’m very proud to co-sponsor Rep. Biggs’ articles of impeachment against Secretary Mayorkas.”