Washington, DC — Today, Ranking Member Chuck Fleischmann (TN-03) delivered opening remarks at the FY 2022 Homeland Security Subcommittee markup. Rep. Fleischmann led subcommittee Republicans to demand increased funding and resources to secure the southern border during the markup.
The full text of Ranking Member Fleischmann’s opening remarks as delivered are below:
“I would like to commend Chairwoman Roybal-Allard, Chair DeLauro and Ranking Member Granger, and all the staff, for overcoming what seems like impossible deadlines, producing a bill in what has to be record time, a mere three and a half weeks after the President released the budget request. So, thank you for all the work that enabled us to be here today.
“I appreciate efforts by the Chairwoman to accommodate the many requests from our colleagues and producing such a comprehensive bill in such a short amount of time. And my sincere thanks to all the staff, both on the Committee and in the personal offices, for their hard work this year on the hearings, the virtual meetings, and the diligence tracking the issues in this bill. We very much appreciate their work.
“Though it was unfortunate that this year’s hearing process took place before we had a budget, we were able to hear from many of the Department’s components about their current operations and priorities. For some of the bill’s funding, we are in complete agreement – cybersecurity, T.S.A., Secret Service, and Science and Technology, just to name a few. The proposed investments are worthy of our support. However, in order to truly get across the finish line, we must come to a reasonable agreement on the immigration issues, and until that is done, I just cannot support this bill in its current form.
“The proud and dedicated employees of the Department of Homeland Security, who work so diligently defending and protecting our nation, truly deserve more than a repeat of partisan bickering over basic border security and the ability to enforce existing law.
“Like last year, the bill before us completely disregards the conference agreement enacted for the previous fiscal year by rescinding all prior year border wall funds. We are perpetually taking one step forward and two steps back. Further, having to negotiate the simple enforcement of our existing immigration laws at our border and within the cities and communities all across the nation, is most certainly the cause of the surge of illegal migration along our southern border.
“Additionally, we can’t continue to embolden the cartels and transnational criminal organizations by limiting immigration enforcement. These criminal networks will continue to take advantage of these misguided policies by perpetuating the myth that the border is open and will continue trafficking more and more drugs and people into the U.S., increasing the profits for the cartels.
“But what really concerns me is the lack of resources in this bill to address the crisis at the border. Remember in 2019 when we were stunned and concerned about seeing 144,000 people cross the border in one month? Fast forward to today, July 2021, and we are seeing 180,000 people crossing over the border illegally in just one month. But still this Administration does not acknowledge the crisis. ICE has been told to ignore the law, detention facilities are vacant, and no one at the Department can tell us if the migrants released into the interior are actually checking in with their ICE office or actively participating in their court cases.
“I ask you – what happens when the Administration lifts the Title 42 public health declaration and the borders are open again? How is this bill preparing the agencies for that surge? Instead of funding even the lean request for ICE enforcement, removal, and operations, the bill before us instead creates a grant program to give funds to non-profits for migrant shelters.
“Let’s let our border agents and immigration officers do their jobs, and instead of restricting them, lets help them enforce the laws on the books by giving them the resources they need: investments in technology and equipment, and a clear message that we support their law enforcement mission. We can’t just give them arbitrary reporting requirements, prohibitions on funds, and hurdles and roadblocks to enforcement.
“But I am an optimist, and I am committed to working with the Chairwoman, as we have done so well in the past, to reach agreement with the Senate on a bill we can support. And as I mentioned earlier, there are many parts of the bill I am happy to support, including increased and robust funding for CISA to help defend and protect our critical federal cyber networks; increased funding for the military branch of the department, the U. S. Coast Guard, so they can better defend our maritime security and interests, especially in the expanding Arctic; and increased funding for FEMA, which worked heroically all throughout the last year in response to the COVID pandemic in our communities.
“I know we have a number of amendments, and I look forward to continued debate on these important issues.
“I want to close by personally thanking Chairwoman Roybal-Allard and the Committee staff for their dedication and work this bill requires. These aren’t easy issues to begin with, and the scrutiny and reporting make it all the harder. The Chairwoman has my utmost respect for the leadership she brings to the Subcommittee. It’s a pleasure working with you.
“I’d also like to thank the staff – clerks Dena Baron and Darek Newby, our amazing Coast Guard detailees – Adam Koziatek and Justin Smith, staff Kris Mallard, Bob Joachim, Karyn Richman, Mike Herman, and Elizabeth Laptham, and in my personal office – Daniel Tidwell and Isabel with Ms. Roybal-Allard. I look forward to moving this bill.
“Thank you, Madam Chairwoman. I yield back my time.”