WASHINGTON—At a Homeland Security Committee hearing today, U.S. Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) pressed Secretary Mayorkas on the Administration’s disastrous border and immigration policies, particularly its reconciliation bill which would provide $250-$300/month, per child, to every illegal immigrant with an ITIN, which he argued would encourage illegal immigration and create a major expense for the federal government. He also expressed concern to FBI Director Wray regarding the rise of domestic violence and extremism in the United States.
His exchange with Secretary Mayorkas and Director Wray can be found below and video can be found here.
Senator Romney: Director Wray, are the threats from domestic violent extremists rising, and if they are, are they rising based on those that are, if you will, inspired from foreign groups? Or are they rising from those that are inspired by domestic groups? I don't know whether you distinguish that way, but my impression is that it's substantially increasing but largely domestic, but that may not be the case. Are the threats greater from these individuals and by source, domestic or international?
Director Wray: So when it comes to sort of homeland-based terrorist threats, we have two buckets, really, that we primarily focus on as the highest priority right now: what we call homegrown violent extremists, which is a reference to people here radicalized by foreign terrorist organizations and ideologies, and then domestic violent extremists, who are radicalized more by everything from racial immanence all the way over to anti-government, anti-authority. The first bucket, the homegrown violent extremists, has been humming along fairly consistently at about 1,000 investigations, sometimes a little more, sometimes a little less, over the last few years. The domestic violent extremist bucket has been going up quite significantly over the last few years, which is why we're now at 2,700 domestic terrorism investigations, when if you went back two and a half years ago, we were probably at more about 1,000. So it’s been a really significant jump there. We are concerned that with developments in Afghanistan, among other things, that there will be more inspiration to the first bucket, as well. So I think we anticipate, unfortunately, growth in both categories as we look ahead over the next couple of years.
Romney: That is daunting and we may get a chance to talk about why you might believe that the latter group, the homegrown domestic-inspired violent extremists, is rising. Secretary Mayorkas, I think any unbiased person would say that the Biden Administration’s border and immigration policies have been nothing short of a monumental disaster. And were there not so many other disasters that the Administration is encountering, it probably would be, by itself, enough for a government to be hanging on by a thread. We’ve had our disagreements in the past about how much of the illegal immigration problem is caused by pull versus push factors, and your view that we need to address so-called root causes, which is poverty and corruption in other countries. My view is that we can’t solve the problems of the rest of the world. In fact, we can’t solve all of our own problems, let alone for the rest of the world. But what we can address are the unnecessary pull factors, if you will, the unnecessary features that we have in place that draw people into coming into our country illegally. And let me just discuss with taxes. If an illegal individual wants to work here and wants to pay U.S. taxes, they're able to do that, is that right? They're able to do that by getting an identification number, is that right?
Secretary Mayorkas: I believe they are, Senator.
Romney: I think they're called an ITIN, they can apply for an ITIN, they are able to do so. Under the Administration's human infrastructure bill, their children can also get an ITIN, can also get that tax number for the same purpose or for whatever purpose they might have?
Mayorkas: I don't know the answer to your question, Senator.
Romney: The answer is, yes, they can. The President's so-called human infrastructure bill also provides $300 per month for every child who obtains such a number. So under the bill that is being proposed and considered by Congress, we'll be paying the illegal immigrant $300 per month for each and every one of their children that obtain such a number. So a family of four who would come here illegally would receive as much as $1,200 per month in checks from the U.S. government—well above the wage and the average wage throughout major parts of Latin America. Do you think that this provision, which would allow the children of those that have come here illegally to receive monthly payments, would represent an unfortunate and damaging pull factor that would draw more and more people into our country illegally?
Mayorkas: Senator, I think that speaks to the fact that we have more than 11 million undocumented individuals already present in the United States, a population that has been growing for decades by reason of a broken immigration system. I don't think it speaks to individuals who have not arrived in the United States.
Romney: Clearly, if you can get paid $300 per child even though the child is here illegally and you're here legally, that's going to encourage people to come here. It's also going to represent a major expense for our government to pay the children of those that are here illegally at $300 per month. One, it's expensive, and two, it creates a greater draw to come to the country.