During a Senate hearing Thursday, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas claimed that he couldn’t recall telling reporters earlier this year that migrants would be welcome to cross the border into the United States as soon as “a safe and orderly system” was in place to process them.
On March 1, the newly-confirmed Mayorkas said during a press briefing at the White House that the massive influx of illegal aliens into the United States was not a “crisis,” but only a “challenge.”
Then, he sent a message to potential illegal border crossers by encouraging them to come to the United States—just not yet: “We are not saying ‘Don’t come.’ We are saying, ‘Don’t come now because we will be able to deliver a safe and orderly process to them as quickly as possible,'” he said.
When questioned about those comments later in March, Mayorkas claimed he couldn’t remember saying it.
Senator Josh Hawley on Thursday took another shot at getting an explanation from the DHS Sec. regarding his controversial statement. Hawley asked Mayorkas if he feels like he bears any responsibility for the continued crisis at the border after suggesting to the world that the border was open.
The Secretary denied ever saying that “the border was open,” even though Hawley hadn’t quoted him as actually saying those words.
“Your words were, ‘we’re not telling you not to come, we’re just telling you that we’re putting a system back in place in which you can come,'” Hawley said. “I mean, don’t you think that people took your words at face value then?”
“Senator, I’ve never said that the border is open …” Mayorkas objected.
“‘We’re not telling you not to come?’ How would you parse that?” Hawley pressed.
Mayorkas again denied saying something Hawley didn’t accuse him of saying.
“Senator, I’ve never said that the border is open, and I’ve never believed that it should be an open border,” he said indignantly.
“You did say that ‘we’re not telling you not to come,’ though, right?” Hawley insisted. “You said that.”
Mayorkas seemed flustered, and at a loss for words.
“I’m sorry Senator, I apologize, I …” he stammered.
“You remember saying, don’t you, that ‘we’re not telling you not to come,” Hawley persisted. “Those were your words that you said at a press conference.”
“I don’t recall saying that,” Mayorkas finally asserted.
“You don’t recall saying that?” Hawley shot back incredulously.
“That’s correct senator,” Mayorkas replied.
On March 1, Sec. Mayorkas told illegal immigrants trying to cross the border: "We are not saying 'Don't come.' We are saying, 'Don't come now.’”
Today, he told @HawleyMO he didn’t recall making those comments.
Maybe this video will help refresh his memory👇🏻 pic.twitter.com/i5vcw6sQt3
— Abigail Marone (@abigailmarone) May 13, 2021
Mayorkas in February reportedly introduced a plan to “reorganize” ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations to the point where it will no longer be about enforcing the nation’s immigration laws.
The DHS Sec. floated the plan to essentially “abolish ICE” during a telephone conference call with agency personnel in Texas, according to the Washington Times.
The secretary’s memory lapse during the Senate hearing Thursday wasn’t the first time he had failed to recollect his stunning invitation to migrants to cross the border illegally. As reporter Byron York previously noted, Mayorkas also suffered a complete memory failure when questioned about it during House Homeland Security Committee hearing on March 17. At that time, he also stuck to his “the border is not open” talking points.
Rep. Carlos Gimenez (R-Fla.) brought up the secretary’s infamous words during the hearing: “You made a statement to migrants across the border that were looking to come into the United States, ‘Don’t come now,'” Gimenez said to Mayorkas. “Have you said that?”
“I don’t recall,” Mayorkas answered. “But I think the message is, in fact, not to come to the border, not to take the perilous journey. The border is not open.”
“So you didn’t say, ‘Don’t come now’?” asked Gimenez. Mayorkas replied, “If you are speaking of individuals who are seeking to come to the southwest border, the message is do not come.”
Later on in the hearing, the ranking Republican on the committee, Rep. John Katko (N.Y.) said to Mayorkas, “With respect to your not recalling whether or not you said ‘Don’t come now,’ I’m looking at a White House briefing from March 1st, and it states, quote, from you saying, ‘Don’t come now, because we will be able to deliver a safe and orderly process to them as quickly as possible.’ Does that refresh recollections whether you said before, ‘Don’t come now’?”
“Congressman, the point is, the bottom line is that the border — ” Mayorkas began.
“No, I understand, Katko said. “I just wondered if you, refresh your recollection?”
“The bottom line is that the border is not open,” Mayorkas repeated.
Back in March, York found Mayorkas’ lack of candor odd and disturbing.
The hearing went on a long time. Mayorkas took a lot of questions and listened to a lot of lecturing by members of Congress. But he never admitted, never conceded, that he had uttered the words, “We are not saying ‘Don’t come.’ We are saying, ‘Don’t come now…'” Never.
Why not just say he had it wrong? Why not just say it was a mistake? Only Mayorkas knows the answer to that. But Mayorkas’ memory loss is not a good sign from the new administration. The Secretary of Homeland Security made a definitive statement, for all the world to see, and then completely changed his position and refused to admit he ever said what he said before.
Two months later, Mayorkas still refuses to admit that he messaged to people south of the border that the welcome mat would come out as soon as the Biden Regime had their processing system in place.