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House Oversight Committee to hold border hearing in early February


By Annie Grayer and Priscilla Alvarez, CNN

(CNN) - The House Oversight Committee will hold a hearing on the Biden administration's border policies in early February, kicking off what is expected to be a series of hearings on the issue amid widespread GOP criticism.

Kentucky Republican Rep. James Comer, who now serves as the committee's chair, has been a fierce critic of the Biden administration's handling of the US-Mexico border. The hearing will take place the week of February 6.

In a letter directed to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and obtained by CNN, Comer requested documents and information about the department's policies, the costs to respond to an influx of migrants at the border, and potential national security risks.

"The American people and their elected representatives must know DHS's role in the humanitarian and national security crisis along the U.S. southern border," the letter states.

Among the documents requested by February 2 are: communications about how many people have been released into the US from DHS custody who crossed the border illegally on or after January 20, 2021; correspondence on any plans to secure the border; and communications related to ending the Trump-era "Remain in Mexico" policy, among other asks.

"DHS will respond to members of Congress through official channels," Marsha Espinosa, a DHS spokeswoman, said.

Republicans have repeatedly slammed the administration over the handling of the US-Mexico border, arguing that the historic number of arrests is evidence of President Joe Biden's policies not working. But the administration is largely using the same protocols as the Trump administration and continues to lean on a Covid-era border restriction that allows border authorities to turn away migrants encountered at the US southern border.

The administration, however, faces unprecedented movement across the Western hemisphere that has contributed to an influx of migrants at the border, including more people from different countries, such as Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua. The US is largely barred from deporting migrants to Cuba and Venezuela, presenting a unique set of challenges for DHS.

The committee invited senior Border Patrol officials who oversee certain sections of the border, including the Del Rio sector and Rio Grande Valley sector, to testify.

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