Bolstered by data, Rep. Max Frost dispels anti-immigration rhetoric during committee hearing
In one of his first committee hearings in Congress, Gen-Z’s Florida Rep pushed back on fentanyl and “Big Brother” policies on the Southern Border.
Newly-minted U.S. House Representative Maxwell Alejandro Frost flexed his committee muscle last week when the House Oversight and Accountability Committee convened to discuss the Southern Border.
Rep. Frost employed a brutal line of questioning at Tuscon Chief Patrol Agent John Modlin and Rio Grande Valley Chief Gloria Chávez in an effort to push back on a long-held GOP narrative about President Joe Biden’s border policies.
“I believe immigrants are American, and thus a part of American culture,” said Frost in response to fellow Rep. Paul Gosar, who said Biden’s policies “more big brother, more control, and more changing our culture.”
The committee was set to meet and discuss operational shortfalls for overstretched border patrol agents, currently overwhelmed with a growing number of migrants and no resources to match the volume.
“Agency-wide, we recognize we need more people,” Modlin said. “I certainly know I do not have enough agents within Tucson sector to deal with the flow that we’re dealing with now,” he continued, remarking on the unprecedented number of arrests agents are making.
Modlin added that the number of arrests had quadrupled since fiscal 2020 and said he “didn’t have the correct adjective to describe what’s going on.”
Gloria Chávez similarly highlighted that her staff had been “a bit overwhelmed” in recent months and said she made contracting government personnel her top priority.
These hearings begin a series of probes into Biden’s border policies, which falls among some of the investigations that House Republicans hope to deploy during the 118th Congress.
But the first meeting was off to a tense start when, ahead of the hearing, Democrats on the panel tweeted that Republicans were “using today's hearing to amplify white nationalist conspiracy theories instead of a comprehensive solution to protect our borders and strengthen our immigration system.”
Some of that tension materialized at the hearing when Frost, responding to Gosar’s comments about what he views as lax policy, employed questioning seeking to dispel the narrative from the patrol agents themselves.
“I’m curious, Chief Chávez. When President Biden took office, did your agents stop enforcing the border and just allow anybody to come in, thus creating what we hear here is an open border?” Frost questioned.
“The answer is no, sir,” Chief Chávez answered. “We continue to enforce policy and laws.”
Frost, turning to Modlin, repeated the question.
“Border patrol agents do their job,” said Modlin, who has served under five previous administrations.
Continuing his turn, Frost criticized the nature of the meeting and said it was “politically charged” before asking about the amount of fentanyl that enters U.S. soil.
“Would you agree that the narrative being peddled right now that says that an insane amount of Fentanyl is being brought by illegal aliens, specifically? Would you say that is true?” asked Frost.
Chávez pushed back.
“Sir, again, we’re here to report on the facts on border security and would defer from giving an opinion on anything in the news. That’s probably doubtful. I can’t provide a factual statement,” she added.
Republicans in Congress have clung tightly to the dangers of fentanyl and have linked its influx to border crossings, despite overwhelming evidence pointing to the contrary.
"Fentanyl poisonings aren't just something you see on the news, it's now so common, it's in your family group text," Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene wrote in a tweet. "No one is safe. Over 300 people are dying everyday (sic.) bc the Biden admin refuses to secure our border."
As recent as 2021, the Cato Institute found that 86.3% of convicted fentanyl drug traffickers were U.S. citizens — a number ten times greater than convictions of illegal immigrants for the same offense, the Cato Institute reported.
Frost cited this report and entered it into the committee’s record.
“For two years of campaigning, we’ve heard about the border, the border, the border,” said Frost, referring to former President Donald Trump’s promise of a monumental border wall, costing billions, with little to no result.
“And here we are. And yet, we’re not solutions-oriented. It’s hyperbole and lies. The situation deserves this committee’s attention because there is a crisis at the border. But the crisis is not a criminal one. It’s a humanitarian one,” he said.
Although the events showcased deep divides between the party, Rep. James Comer, Republican and Chair of the Oversight Committee, told the Government Executive he remained optimistic.