Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas testifies before the House Judicary Committee in Washington on April 28, 2022. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)
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Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas faces a Friday, Oct. 20, deadline for producing to the House Homeland Security Committee materials in 19 separate categories of documents that may shed light on Mexican drug cartels compromising the CBP One app used by immigrants to facilitate their entry into the United States.
Launched in October 2020 as a U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) tool for shippers and other legal border traffic to schedule their movements efficiently into and out of the United States, the CBP One app was seized upon by Mr. Mayorkas early in 2021 as a tool for increasing the flow of immigrants in an orderly manner. More than six million immigrants have crossed the southern border since January 2021, when President Joe Biden reversed the border policies of his predecessor in the Oval Office, Donald Trump.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary told the House Judiciary Committee in July that the app that enables users to schedule their entrance at a U.S. Port of Entry effectively "cuts out the smuggling organizations" and helps DHS identify individuals who should not be allowed to enter the country.
But the problem is the cartels have since figured out how to compromise the app—which is only supposed to be usable for persons within certain areas of northern Mexico—to schedule entry appointments for individuals who are actually far beyond Mexico's southern border, thus enabling the cartels to profit by charging immigrants and in assisting entry into the United States by terrorists and other subversives.
Beginning last summer, Republican investigators led by committee Chairman Mark Green (R-Tenn.) have pressured Mr. Mayorkas to turn over documents indicating that DHS uses the app to facilitate entry into the country of individuals the department is not authorized to allow to cross the border.“Secretary Mayorkas created a massive security vulnerability. This is unacceptable and too important to ignore, and the American people demand and deserve answers. The committee is simply requesting relevant documents that would provide Congress, a co-equal branch of government, and the American people with vital information about what’s happening at our Southwest border. Given the impact that the CBP One app has had on our border security, the committee will get to the bottom of this, one way or another,” Mr. Green told The Epoch Times. Repeated requests by the committee to DHS failed to generate production of any of the documents being sought by investigators. So, Mr. Green is now putting the threat of subpoenas on the table with DHS.
Rep. Mark Green (R-Tenn.) speaks during a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on the U.S.-Afghanistan relationship following the military withdrawal, on Capitol Hill in Washington, on May 18, 2021. (Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images)
“The committee requires the requested documents, communications, and other information to fully evaluate potential legislation to reform the department’s authority to use CBP One to issue an illegal alien advanced travel authorization and grant parole into the United States," Mr. Green wrote in an Oct. 13 letter to Mr. Mayorkas obtained by The Epoch Times. “The committee is concerned that the department’s use of CBP One to facilitate parole for large classes of illegal aliens extends beyond the department’s statutory parole authority that allows release of detainable illegal aliens applying for admission ‘on a case-by-case basis for urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit …’
“The committee seeks legislative solutions to further clarify limits on the department’s parole authority. If the outstanding requests related to CBP One remain unsatisfied by 5:00 p.m. on October 20, 2023, I will consider utilizing compulsory process. I expect prompt and complete compliance with all the committee’s outstanding requests for documents and other information.”
The reference to "compulsory process" is to the power of the committee to issue subpoenas for the documents to Mr. Mayorkas, members of his legislation relations team, and other DHS employees, both Biden administration political appointees and career civil servants, who may be involved in responding to congressional requests.
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Mexican marines escort five alleged Zeta drug cartel traffickers in front of seized items - RPG-7 rocket launcher, hand grenades, firearms, cocaine, and military uniforms - presented to the press on June 9th, 2011. A report states the Mexican government and drug cartels are responsible for more than 150,000 deaths between 2006 and 2015. (YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
A knowledgeable congressional source who asked not to be identified told The Epoch Times that "the national security implications are that the cartels are just able to manipulate everything that the Secretary is doing to continue their operations."
The source added that "the Secretary claimed the CBP One app cut the cartels out by allowing individuals to make their appointments ... but now the cartels are involved in making money on that, too, so they haven't cut the cartels out, the cartels are still in control. It's become another stream of income for them."
Investigators are concerned that half of the individuals covered by CBP data are single male adults, many of them of military age, coming in illegally.
"That they are using CBP One doesn't change the demographics of those coming in ... so of course the cartels can exploit CBP One to try to get in whoever they want. Somebody who does have terrorist ties that the U.S. may be aware of ... those are the people that are going to be among the 'gotaways.' But people that may have terrorist ties we don't know of, sure, there is no reason the cartels wouldn't partner with terrorist organizations to exploit entry," the source continued.
A second knowledgeable congressional source, when asked by The Epoch Times if events in Israel since the Hamas massacre of Oct. 7 add urgency to the committee's investigation, said, "The answer to that question is yes, but also, the mere fact that this app has been used to facilitate the cartels' business here is unacceptable to start with. That's beyond this war, that's beyond terrorists smuggling across the border. But one of the things the committee's [document demands] get to is trying to figure out this app's vulnerabilities because it opens the door so widely."
A spokesman for Mr. Mayorkas did not respond to The Epoch Times' request for comment.