Rep. Mayra Flores, R-Texas, lambasted Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas for "lying" about the state of the U.S.-Mexico border.
Mayorkas appeared before the House Homeland Security Committee on Tuesday.
Flores demanded answers about what Mayorkas was doing to combat suicides among Border Patrol agents, many of whom have expressed frustration at the way the Biden administration is handling the surge of migrants.
"As someone who lives the reality of our southern border every day, you say that the border was secure. You are lying to the American people," Flores told Mayorkas during the hearing.
Flores, whose husband is a Border Patrol agent, said morale among agents is low. She mentioned two agents who committed suicide recently as evidence the department is failing its personnel.
"In no other department is a mental health crisis more visible," Flores said.
Mayorkas, who acknowledged Flores' connection to the Border Patrol, agreed that agents are facing "intense pressure."
"They are indeed under intense challenge," Mayorkas said. "We are very dedicated to providing them with the resources and support they need to fulfill their responsibilities and to ensure their wellness."
The secretary maintained that the southern border situation is not unique. He said countries such as Colombia and Chile have accepted millions of Venezuelan migrants in recent years.
"We are seeing a migration in the Western Hemisphere, and in fact across the world, that is unprecedented," Mayorkas said. "We are dedicated to enhancing the security of our southern border."
Mayorkas' budget for fiscal year 2023 included a request for an additional 300 Border Patrol agents, The Washington Times reported.
Also, more than 1,000 "processing coordinators" have been signed to take over administrative tasks to free agents to get back into the field.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) statistics show that agents had nearly 2.4 million encounters at the U.S.- Mexico border in fiscal year 2022.
The number of encounters at the southern border has soared to record highs under President Joe Biden. Republicans say the president's policies are too lenient.
Biden accepted the resignation of CBP Commissioner Christopher Magnus on Saturday.
On Sunday, Flores tweeted: "Customs and Border Protection Chief Chris Magnus resigns. Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas should be next."
Reuters contributed to this story.
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