A Senate Judiciary Committee hearing with Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas that was scheduled for Thursday will be postponed, committee chairman Sen. Dick Durbin said, as Mayorkas’ department struggles to deal with a crush of migrants flooding the southern border.
Mayorkas tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this week and is forced to quarantine, which made it impossible for him to testify in person at the Thursday hearing.
“We’re rescheduling,” Durbin, D-Ill., said when asked about the hearing Wednesday. “He offered to do virtual, but the other side said they’d rather have him in person.”
Republicans likely planned to grill Mayorkas in the televised hearing over the border situation that the GOP says is a crisis putting Americans in dangers.
According to Customs and Border Protection data, federal authorities have encountered more than 100,000 migrants at the southern border every month for which there is data since February. In both July and August, encounters topped 200,000.
Democrats argue that Mayorkas and other Biden border officials are doing the best they can in an untenable border situation left to them by former President Donald Trump. They insist that the border is not open and note that many migrants are being deported under a COVID-19 health order.
The Biden administration is also under fire for recent reports of late-night flights from border towns deep into the interior of the United States on U.S. government contracted planes. The New York Post reported this week on middle-of-the-night flights of migrants from border towns to Westchester County, New York.
This came a month after Fox News reported on migrant flights not just to New York but also to destinations like Chicago, Denver, Minneapolis, Yakima, Washington, and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Many of these migrants are eventually released into those areas, including from Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE) facilities, with ICE officials in Washington allegedly applying firm pressure on local field offices to release scores of migrants to make room for even more coming in from the border.
“Here we are talking about early flights,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in response to the flights documented by the New York Post, which included migrant children but not adults as the flights reported by Fox News did. “It is our legal responsibility to safely care for unaccompanied children until they swiftly – can be swiftly unified with a parent or a vetted sponsor.”
Republicans will still be able to grill at least one Biden official Thursday. Attorney General Merrick Garland will testify before the House Judiciary Committee. He is likely to face questions about a memo he issued this month asking the FBI to look into threats against school boards.
Fox News’ Peter Doocy and Kellianne Jones contributed to this report.