House Judiciary Committee demands answers from Mayorkas on gotaways, deciding on next steps

The House Judiciary Committee has been demanding answers from DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas about gotaways and other information for months.

The House Judiciary Committee has been demanding answers from Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas about gotaways and other information for months. After receiving no response to repeated requests, its chairman, Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, subpoenaed Mayorkas on Feb. 29, two weeks after House Republicans voted to impeach him.

The committee recently received some documents it requested and is evaluating next steps, a committee spokesperson told The Center Square.

Jordan’s subpoena letter cites gotaway data exclusively reported by The Center Square.

“Gotaways” is the official term used by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol to describe foreign nationals who intentionally illegally enter the U.S. between ports of entry and don’t return to Mexico or Canada. CBP doesn’t publicly report gotaway data. The Center Square first began reporting it to provide a more accurate picture of the number of illegal border crossers entering the U.S. every month under the current administration. It received information from a Border Patrol agent as well as data received through Freedom of Information Act requests also confirmed by former BP chiefs.

The official total of more than 1.8 million gotaways since January 2021 is an underreported number, officials have explained to The Center Square, for several reasons. As record numbers of illegal border crossers increasingly entered the country every year, more Border Patrol agents were taken out of the field and were unable to track gotaways. Gotaway data is also a minimum number and doesn’t adequately portray how many are entering because it doesn’t account for the unknown number who get through who aren’t detected and therefore aren’t reported, officials also explain.

Former Border Patrol chiefs estimate that gotaway data is underreported by roughly 10% to 20% under normal circumstances. Every year, over the last more than three years, the number of illegal border crossers has broken records.

For the first time in U.S. history, retired FBI counter intelligence officials warned that gotaways are part of a “soft invasion” being facilitated by “military age men from across the globe, many from countries or regions not friendly to the United States.”

“It would be difficult to overstate the danger represented by the presence inside our borders of what is comparatively a multi division army of young single adult males from hostile nations and regions whose background, intent, or allegiance is completely unknown,” they said, adding that a terrorist attack was likely imminent but preventable.

Border Patrol sector chiefs have also warned about national security risks posed by gotaways, which now total well over 2 million since January 2021, The Center Square has reported.

Since September 2023, the House Judiciary Committee has requested data from Mayorkas about gotaways, mass surges at the border, and DHS shutting down bridges and an international rail bridge while also removing concertina wire to block illegal entry between ports of entry in Texas. The committee sent another request for documents and information in November 2023 and “DHS did not provide the committee with a response or the requested information and documents,” Jordan said.

In December 2023, the committee wrote again to Mayorkas “reiterating its outstanding requests for documents and communications,” followed by additional requests.

DHS responded on Jan. 2, 2024, nearly two months after the first request and one day before a House Republican delegation trip to Eagle Pass, Texas. DHS offered to provide an “in-person,” “operational briefing,” which the Judiciary Committee agreed to. However, multiple attempts to schedule the briefing went nowhere.

DHS next told the committee that it had received operational updates during its Texas trip and retracted its offer for the in-person briefing. It also said it previously responded to requests in one letter in February and in another communication said it “will not be providing any materials subject to pending litigation” because it was embroiled in a lawsuit with Texas.

Jordan said DHS’ “rationale is unpersuasive” because the committee isn’t a party to the litigation “and it has no bearing on the Committee’s authority to conduct oversight.”

He also said, “The indefinite suspension of lawful trade and travel at multiple crossings along the southwest border is yet another example of the Biden Administration’s prioritization of illegal aliens to the detriment of Americans.”

When asked if a federal agency refusing to provide information requested by Congress was out of the ordinary, a committee spokesperson told The Center Square “it is unprecedented. The administration has a duty to respond to congressional requests.”

As violent crimes, including rape and murder, are increasingly being committed against Americans, Immigration and Customs Enforcement has described the alleged gotaway perpetrators as having “unlawfully entered the United States on an unknown date at an unknown location without being inspected or admitted by an immigration official,” The Center Square has reported.

Not knowing who, how many and where gotaways are in the U.S. the spokesperson said, “is extraordinarily dangerous … they are killing people.”