OXON HILL, Md.—The crisis at the southern border is both unending and unrelenting. As The Daily Signal previously reported, more than 1 million migrants have been encountered at the southern border since the start of fiscal year 2023 on Oct. 1.
Rep. Mark Green, R-Tenn., chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, recently traveled with freshman GOP members of the committee to El Paso, Texas, for a “border boot camp.”
“I think shocking would be, of course, images of the dead migrants,” Green says.
“When you see the image of a woman who—because what the cartels do is when they sneak people in, they put them in stash houses, and then to pay the cartel back, those people have to commit crimes in the United States, basically sell or traffic drugs or people,” Green says. “Well, if you refuse to do that, you wind up dead, and this one woman did, and she was raped, scalped, and dropped at an elementary school in the United States.”
Green joins “The Daily Signal Podcast” to discuss a recent letter he sent to Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, demanding “updated data on fentanyl overdose deaths.” The Tennessee lawmaker also discusses the upcoming Homeland Security Committee field hearing in McAllen, Texas, and what the Biden administration has been doing to address the fentanyl crisis.
Listen to the podcast below or read the lightly edited transcript:
Samantha Aschieris: Rep. Mark Green is joining us today. He’s the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee and represents Tennessee’s 7th Congressional District. Congressman, thanks so much for joining us.
Rep. Mark Green: Hey, thanks for having me. Glad to be on, Samantha.
Aschieris: Of course. So, the southern border crisis is both unrelenting and unending. And as you know and our listeners know from previous interviews we’ve done, and just frankly from watching the news, fentanyl is pouring into this country and it’s killing our fellow Americans.
Now, you recently sent a letter to [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] Director Rochelle Walensky, demanding an update for data on drug overdoses, deaths from fentanyl, fentanyl-related substances, and synthetic opioids by March 31. So the end of this month. Can you tell us a little bit more about this letter and why do you think there isn’t updated data on fentanyl overdoses to begin with?
Green: Yeah. We live in an age where you can dial up anything on Netflix and watch it anytime you want. We basically have pretty much everything on demand. Why it takes five months to get the numbers from fiscal year 2022 makes no sense to me whatsoever. And so we need real-time, well, honestly, we need real-time information to make good decisions.
So I think what we’re going to do is write some legislation that demands they post the numbers at the end of a month or something like that, but at least give us 2022, tell us what’s going on. And my guess is it’s really bad, so they don’t want to make the administration look bad. But there’s a delay right now.
Aschieris: Yeah. Let’s talk a little bit more about the Biden administration’s role in this and what have they been doing to address the fentanyl crisis?
Green: Well, what they have been doing is actually making the fentanyl crisis worse. So they did away with 89 Trump-era policies that decreased flow across our southern border. And what’s happened is, with so many people being able to come in, word gets back to those countries, more people come, the drug cartels are taking advantage of the situation.
So they take a “coyote” paid individual, many of them to the crossing sites, they overwhelm the crossing sites, and that requires [Customs and Border Protection] to thin the lines in the rural areas and the fentanyl comes pouring across the country.
I’ve seen video after video of camouflage-wearing, backpack-wearing, carpet shoe-wearing, just file after file of people coming into the country with drugs. And that’s where it’s coming from.
And so, what they’re doing is actually making the problem much, much worse. And they’re either stupid or intentional because they’ll say, “Oh, well, we’ve captured more fentanyl at the crossing sites.” Well, great, good job. But we know that the price of fentanyl in the country’s gone, at least according to the sheriffs in Tennessee, from $95 to $28. That’s supply demand. It’s because fentanyl is poured into the country and it’s their policies that have done it.
Aschieris: Can you speak to what more the Biden administration should be doing from your perspective as the chairman of the Homeland Security Committee?
Green: Well, first, if they just enforced the policies on the books, enforce the laws of the land. The detention piece is a big deterrent to people coming to the country. And if you’re going to break the law, you should be detained. And a process should happen that way. When they do that, people actually stop coming. But when you grant automatic asylum and parole, well, that’s the problem. The “Remain in Mexico,” the Migrant Protection Protocols, all those things worked and it decreased the incentives, and so people stayed home.
It’s a foreign policy issue too because Guatemala is losing a generation of workers. I mean, how’s that country going to function if all of its employees leave their country and come to the United States?
Aschieris: Now, I want to talk about something that you recently did. You took a group of freshman members of the Homeland Security Committee to the border for a “border boot camp.”
Green: Border boot camp.
Aschieris: So, first and foremost, can you describe a little bit about this boot camp? What is the state of the border and the purpose of this boot camp?
Green: So, the status of the border is basically what we’ve been talking about. It’s an open border, the control of which has been seized by the drug cartels. But I wanted my freshmen to understand it, to get a bird’s eye view, and they literally did.
We put them in a helicopter and flew them over the border as one of the things they got to do, which was really cool for some of them. I spent 24 years in the Army and I was in the United States Army’s special operations elite aviation unit. So for me, getting in a helicopter was no big deal, but for some of them it was really cool.
But they got to see the border and now they’re informed and can make good decisions on the policies we need to implement, the laws we need to implement to get [Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro] Mayorkas to do his job.
Aschieris: When you were down there, what was the most shocking or surprising thing that you saw during the trip?
Green: I think shocking would be, of course, images of the dead migrants. When you see the image of a woman who—because what the cartels do is, when they sneak people in, they put them in stash houses and then to pay the cartel back, those people have to commit crimes in the United States, basically sell or traffic drugs or people. Well, if you refuse to do that, you wind up dead. And this one woman did and she was raped, scalped, and dropped at an elementary school in the United States. I mean, that’s how horrible these people are, but it’s also how horrible the dereliction of duty of Mayorkas. That’s probably the most shocking thing that I saw while I was there.
Aschieris: Now, just looking ahead, you actually have a field hearing coming up on March 15, I believe it’s in McAllen [Texas]. Can you preview what we can expect at this hearing?
Green: Yeah. So, we’re going to do three different things when we’re down there. Hearing No. 1 will be just Chief [Raul] Ortiz, the head of the … Border Patrol, and he’s going to come in and testify. And then we’ll have a second round of nongovernment folks, so the Texas [Department of Public Safety] and the Texas National Guard and other people impacted by this unbelievable tragedy. And then we’re going to go into a closed session and it’s no media, just a presenter who will describe what’s going on, and it’ll be open question so that it’s not about saying things.
I’m hopeful that some of the Democrats will be real in there and say, this is because the cameras are off, they’ll own this. Because sometimes in the halls they’ll whisper, “Yeah, I know it’s a crisis,” but they won’t admit it on TV. So hopefully in a closed session we can have a real dialogue about what’s going on and get stuff done.
Aschieris: Yeah, absolutely. Well, Congressman, thank you so much for joining us.
Green: Yeah, thanks for having me.
Aschieris: I really appreciate it. Thanks so much.
Green: Yeah. Great to meet you, Samantha. Have a good day.
Aschieris: Great to meet you. Yeah, thank you.
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