Ted Cruz Presses DHS Head Mayorkas Over 'Biden Cages' for Migrant Kids at Southern Border
00:52 GMT 17.11.2021 (Updated: 01:10 GMT 17.11.2021)
Earlier in the spring, Cruz shared a photograph of youngsters jammed into pens taken at the Donna migrant processing facility in Texas. Ever since, the senator has not missed a chance to criticize the Democrats and the administration for holding illegal migrants in such conditions.
Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas grilled Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Tuesday about children being held in "Biden cages" at the US-Mexico border.
“How many children have been in the Biden cages in calendar year 2021?” Cruz asked the DHS chief during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.
However, Mayorkas responded by saying that he "respectfully disagrees with your use of the term ‘cages.'"
Cruz replied by acknowledging that Mayorkas may disagree with the term, however, he pressed the Biden administration official by asking him "How many children have been in the Biden cages?"
"I’ve been to the Biden cages, I’ve seen the Biden cages. How many children have you detained at the Donna [Texas] tent facility in the cages you built to hold kids? How many children have been in those cages?" Cruz continued.
Mayorkas insisted that he was not aware of the use of the term "cages" in regard to the migrant detention facilities at the border, and what Cruz specifically was talking about.
"Enclosures in which they are locked in, in which I took photographs and put them out because you blocked the press and didn’t want people to see the Biden cages," Cruz explained.
"I will have to circle back with you with a precise number," Mayorkas finally confessed.
Cruz then displayed a photograph of kids jammed into pens taken at Donna earlier this year in the spring. He said that in the photo, children were seen "sleeping on floors, crashed in upon each other. When I took this photograph, the rate of COVID-19 positivity was over 10 percent."
He asked Mayorkas what is the exact number of children in such conditions of detention, to which the head of the DHS said that he had repeatedly emphasized that the Border Patrol station was not a place for children.
“Secretary Mayorkas, you’re not answering my question, so let me ask you this,” Cruz continued to press the official. “In the past year, has [President] Joe Biden been down to see firsthand the Biden cages? Has Joe Biden been down to see this facility, yes or no?”
Mayorkas eventually admitted that the president has not yet visited the border himself, while Vice President Kamala Harris, who has been at the border, also did not visit the Donna facility, prompting renewed opposition from Mayorkas to the Texas senator's insistence on using the term "cage."
Cruz then continued by stating that Democratic legislators had not visited the border at all and did not see the center for migrants at the border, to which Mayorkas objected that, according to his information, senators had visited the border and CBP facilities there.
"Has any Democratic member of this committee given a damn enough to see the children being locked up by Joe Biden and Kamala Harris because of your failed immigration policies?" Cruz asked rhetorically.
The Texas senator decided to continue grilling Mayorkas with questions about how many women and children were sexually abused en route to the US, and how many COVID-19 positive migrants or those with a criminal history were released into the country.
To all these questions, an apparently confused Mayorkas replied that he did not have any such data.
19 October 2021, 21:22 GMT
Prior to the exchange, Mayorkas admitted before the Senate committee that the US immigration system is "broken," and also added that not all of the 1.2 million illegal immigrants with final removal orders should be deported.
"We cannot remove 1.2 million individuals," the DHS head said, adding, "I would not necessarily accept the fact that all of them have received due process."