U.S. Sen. Rick Scott has been aggressive in his message about security failings at the U.S./Mexico border.
But on Thursday, Scott took it up a notch, expressing his concerns directly to the Director of Homeland Security in a charged committee hearing.
The Florida Republican, who has blamed Biden’s “open borders and amnesty” policies for the surge in illegal border crossings, made his points known to Alejandro Mayorkas at the Senate Homeland Security Committee meeting, including drawing a link between Florida’s drug crisis and a porous southern border.
“As I talk to sheriffs in Florida, what they’re seeing since Joe Biden‘s inauguration is an unbelievable increase in fentanyl coming across, coming into Florida. And the only thing they can say is it has to be coming across the border,” Scott said, asking if “record low drug seizures are because Customs and Border Patrol agents are being diverted to manage the humanitarian crisis at the southern border.”
Mayorkas assured Scott that wasn’t the case, spotlighting policy moves in recent months, but the Senator was unmollified.
“Why would seizures be down then? With all that’s happening, why would seizures be down? It’s the data that’s coming out of the administration,” Scott said, pressing Mayorkas, who vowed to “review” the data from the CBP at some point.
While Mayorkas rejected the framing of the crisis from Scott and other Republicans, some Florida sheriffs draw a direct line between the current administration and the border crisis.
“It represents the danger of not having a secure border. These drugs are flowing into the country,” said Bay County Sheriff Tommy Ford about drug seizures in his own county to a local media outlet earlier this year.
Scott’s concerns expressed in the hearing followed a news conference earlier this week, in which he hammered the administration for disinterest, urging Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris to “visit the border now.”
Scott asked if Mayorkas was “disappointed” that the duo hadn’t “taken the time to come to the border.” Mayorkas said the “challenges at the border” are his “responsibility” as DHS head.
Scott drilled down on other questions, including the unfinished border wall, a Trump priority abandoned by the current administration.
“The money’s committed; the cameras are all there,” Scott said. “It just doesn’t seem logical to the American public.”
Scott offered a statement hours after this meeting, saying that Mayorkas dodged his questions.
“Today, I asked for simple answers from DHS Secretary Mayorkas on how DHS and the Biden Administration are enforcing current immigration law and keeping drugs and potentially dangerous, illegal aliens who have been convicted of serious crimes, out of our nation. He dodged my questions and, following the lead of President Biden and Vice President Harris, is hiding from the facts. That’s unacceptable,” Scott said.