Mayorkas Grilled Over Laken Riley’s Death

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas testified before the Senate Homeland Security Committee on April 18, just a day after the Senate rejected articles of impeachment against him.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) took Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to task on April 18 for the death of college student Laken Riley, whose alleged killer was released into the country on parole.

“How did the murderer of Laken Riley get into this country? And what is the statute that allowed you to do it? How could you, and how could you sleep at night, you know, having done that?” Mr. Paul asked the secretary during a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing.

“First and foremost, all our hearts break for the family of Miss Riley,” Mr. Mayorkas said. “Secondly, the perpetrator of this heinous criminal act needs to meet justice to the fullest extent of the law. And I will not comment on the particulars of the case because the matter is being prosecuted by authorities now.”

Mr. Paul noted that he had a copy of the parole file of 26-year-old Jose Ibarra, Ms. Riley’s accused killer. The document, he said, shows that Mr. Ibarra, an illegal immigrant from Venezuela, was granted parole by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) because the detention facility was full.

“Is detention capacity statutorily allowed to be used as a reasoning for parole?” the senator asked.

Mr. Mayorkas skirted the question, asserting that Border Patrol’s encounters at the border with illegal immigrants have always exceeded detention capacity and that individuals perceived as a public safety or national security threat are prioritized for detention.

When pressed further, he added that there are “different bases for parole” and that he was not “a legal expert” in that regard. He also reiterated his belief that those who commit crimes should be held accountable.

“Well, that’s not much consolation if you wait until after he’s murdered somebody,” Mr. Paul countered, adding that he had not seen “real remorse” from the secretary or his Democrat colleagues over the tragedy.

“If it were me, I would be so upset by this [that] I would be doing everything possible to make sure that another Jose Ibarra doesn’t get in. But apparently, you let his brother in, too, and his brother’s got a rap sheet 10 times longer than Jose does. And so, I don’t know. All I can express is disappointment and bewilderment that the Democrats let you get away with it.”

Impeachment Dismissed

Mr. Paul’s comments came a day after the Democrat-controlled Senate shot down two articles of impeachment against Mr. Mayorkas.

The House impeached the secretary in February on charges of willfully refusing to enforce existing immigration laws and breach of public trust. But the Senate trial ended just three hours after jurors were sworn in as members voted along party lines to dismiss both articles as unconstitutional.

Noting that swift dismissal, Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) said at Thursday’s hearing that he believed Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) killed the trial for political reasons.

Mr. Schumer, he suggested, was either trying to shield Democrats from having to address the border crisis, or he was afraid that a trial would expose Mr. Mayorkas’s failures to the extent that an acquittal would be “extremely painful for Democrats to explain” to the public.

“Surely, you believe you have a case to present to the American people on why you should not be found guilty,” Mr. Scott said to the Homeland Security secretary. “But you didn’t get that chance, and Senate Democrats are setting a new precedent. They’re destroying the rules and tradition of the Senate to keep you quiet.”

The senator asked Mr. Mayorkas if he thought he was being “silenced” because Democrats were afraid to defend his record or because they didn’t trust him.

The secretary said he believed neither.

A ‘Damning Indictment’

While Mr. Paul was the first committee member to grill Mr. Mayorkas over Ms. Riley’s death, he was not the last.

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), for instance, asked the secretary whether he regretted his “complicity” in the violent crimes illegal immigrants had committed against U.S. citizens.

“People have lost their loved ones because of this catastrophe, this open-border policy. Do you have any remorse? Do you have any regrets?”

Mr. Mayorkas reiterated that “all of our hearts break” for the victims of such crimes and their families. He added that the individuals who committed those crimes were the ones responsible for their conduct.

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), meanwhile, was dissatisfied with the secretary’s refusal to say whether he had seen Mr. Ibarra’s parole file.

“You’ve changed your answers all over the map on this, and it looks like, to me, you just don’t want to answer the question,” Mr. Hawley said.

The senator noted that other members of Congress had asked Mr. Mayorkas the same question and received different responses—including as recently as two days prior.

“Two days ago, you were asked about this in the House Homeland Security Committee—I’ve got the transcript right here in front of me,” he said.

During that hearing, Mr. Mayorkas told Rep. Dan Bishop (R-N.C.) that he didn’t know why Mr. Ibarra was paroled and that he didn’t have the case details with him. And before that, on April 10, the secretary told Sen. Katie Britt (R-Ala.) that DHS was unaware of any “derogatory information” regarding Mr. Ibarra when he was paroled.

Asked to clarify which of those answers was correct, Mr. Mayorkas declined again to comment on the case.

“Of course, you don’t want to because it is an absolutely damning indictment of your policies,” Mr. Hawley said.

Once an issue touted mainly by Republicans, border security has become more of a bipartisan concern in recent months.

A Feb. 26 Monmouth University poll found that 84 percent of Americans now see illegal immigration as either a “very serious” (61 percent) or “somewhat serious” (23 percent) problem. Those numbers reflect a double-digit spike in concern from 2019 when 46 percent said the problem was “very serious” and 25 percent said it was “somewhat serious.”

The percentage of voters who identify illegal immigration as their top issue has also soared from 8 percent in March 2020 to 16.2 percent as of March 31, according to YouGov.

Short of any meaningful changes at the southern border, the issue will likely remain front of mind for voters as they head to the polls this November.

From The Epoch Times

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