The inability of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas this week to name a single case of domestic terrorism that his department has referred to the Department of Justice for prosecution has outraged Republicans and amplified their calls for Mayorkas to resign or be impeached.
During testimony before the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday, Mayorkas reaffirmed his assessment that “domestic violent extremism represents the greatest terrorism-related threat to the homeland.”
Rep. Greg Steube, R-Fla., pressed Mayorkas for data on any referrals he has made to the DOJ on the grounds of domestic terrorism. Mayorkas did not offer any, saying he would provide it after the hearing.
Steube told Fox News Digital he hasn’t heard back from DHS, and he’s doubtful he’ll ever get a response.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas faced questions from Rep. Greg Steube, R-Fla., during a hearing April 28, 2022.
In interviews with several GOP lawmakers following the testy exchange, Republicans accused the Biden Administration of overstating or even fabricating the threat of domestic terrorism as a way to avoid the real issue of the surge of migrant border crossings that have reached historically high numbers.
“It tells you that they haven’t referred anybody from Homeland Security to DOJ on domestic terrorism or White nationalism-related charges,” Steube told Fox News Digital. “And it just goes to show you that the narrative that the Biden administration is trying to create that the No. 1 threat to the homeland is White nationalism and domestic terrorism isn’t true.”
Steube supports Mayorkas’ impeachment if the GOP retakes Congress.
“They’re trying to avoid the clear threat to our democracy and to the safety and security of the American people at the southern border,” Steube said.
DHS did not respond to requests for comment from Fox News Digital seeking data on domestic terrorism criminal referrals and further information on the DHS assessment that domestic terrorism is a greater threat to the homeland than the surge of immigrants at the border.
There were more than 1.7 million migrant encounters in FY 2021, and FY 2022 is on pace to exceed that, with what is expected to be more than 1 million encounters in the first six months of the fiscal year alone. At least 23 people coming across the southern border in 2021 were on the terror watch list.
“Democrats are absolutely gaslighting the American people,” Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., said of Mayorkas’ domestic terrorism claims. “I do not believe that is the biggest threat to our homeland. Our biggest threat is the southern border and the invasion that is taking place.”
Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., speaks at a news conference held by members of the House Freedom Caucus on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, July 29, 2021, to complain about Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and masking policies.
(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Rep. Jim Banks, the chairman of the Republican Study Committee, accused President Biden’s homeland security chief of spreading falsehoods. Banks already led a letter with 130 fellow Republicans, including GOP leadership, that questioned Mayorkas’ “suitability for office.”
“The Biden administration continues to shamelessly lie to the American people and uses ‘disinformation’ as a label to slander and discredit their critics,” Banks, R-Ind., said in a statement to Fox News Digital. “Mayorkas’s inability to cite a single case of White supremacist terrorism, despite claiming it’s the single greatest threat to the nation, is exactly why DHS has created a new ‘Disinformation Governance Board.'”
House Freedom Caucus Chairman Scott Perry, R-Pa., scolded Mayorkas for focusing more on U.S. citizens than the “criminals and potential terrorists” crossing the border.
“His goal is to stigmatize Democrat political opponents by accusing them of being domestic terrorists but couldn’t name a single prosecution referral made to the Justice Department,” Perry told Fox News Digital. “He should be securing our nation from the invasion on our southern border and protecting Americans, instead of acting as the handmaiden for the messaging machine of the radical left.”
During the hearing, Mayorkas touted efforts to root out domestic terrorism, including creating a new Center for Prevention Programs and Partnerships (CP3) to help communities prevent radicalization to violence and designating domestic violent extremism as a national priority area in FEMA grant programs. He also touted the creation of a dedicated domestic terrorism branch within the Department’s Office of Intelligence & Analysis that “has been disseminating an unprecedented level of information and intelligence” to state and local partners to counter threats.
“We remain vigilant against all forms of terrorism and targeted violence,” Mayorkas said. “The nature of these threats has evolved, but our vigilance and resolve are constant.”
Mayorkas is not alone in his assessment that domestic violent extremism is the greatest terrorism related threat to the homeland. Other high-ranking officials in the Biden administration and congressional Democrats have shared the same message.
Attorney General Merrick Garland and FBI Director Christopher Wray have testified before Congress that domestic violent extremist groups, including White supremacists, pose a growing threat to the United States.
“The threat of lethality is higher than it ever was … I have not seen a more dangerous threat to democracy than the invasion of the U.S. Capitol” on Jan. 6, Garland told a Senate committee in May, according to Reuters.
FBI Director Christopher A. Wray
(Mark WIlson/Getty Images)
Wray said in September 2021 the FBI has “surged” resources to handle a growing caseload, which has jumped from about 1,000 investigations in the spring of 2020 to about 2,700 investigations.
Wray said in congressional testimony the greatest terrorist threat in the U.S. is from lone actors. That includes homegrown jihadists espousing ISIS ideologies, as well as domestic violent extremists “radicalized by personalized grievances ranging from racial and ethnic bias to anti-government, anti-authority sentiment to conspiracy theories,” he said.
Wray classified the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol as “domestic terrorism.”
Though Mayorkas didn’t mention this in his response to Steube Thursday, the Homeland Security leader previously pointed to the “repeated and persistent bomb threats” against Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) as reason for concern. In talking about the threat of domestic violent extremism earlier this month, Mayorkas further specified that “the most prominent threat is the threat of White supremacists.”
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas testifies before the House Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill, Thursday, April 28, 2022, in Washington.
(AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
This year, more than one-third of the country’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) have received bomb threats, according to the White House. No explosive devices were found, but the campus disruptions and the fears the threats generated prompted the Biden Administration to announce new grant funding in March to HBCUs ranging from $50,000 to $150,000 per school affected.
The FBI has investigated at least 59 threats of violence against HBCUs, including Howard University, since the beginning of the year, according to Inside Higher Ed. The threats are classified as racially motivated violent extremism and hate crimes, according to the FBI.
“This investigation is of the highest priority for the Bureau,” the FBI said in February.
House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., agrees with Mayorkas that domestic violent extremism represents the greatest terrorism threat to the homeland. His committee has held hearings examining the domestic terrorism threat, including against Black churches and colleges.
Thompson’s office points to the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) 2022 official threat assessment report that said lone wolves and small terrorist cells motivated by various ideologies “probably present the greatest terrorist threat to the United States,” including racial/ethnic violent extremism and militia extremism.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., shares a similar concern. He opened the Mayorkas hearing on Thursday sounding the alarm on domestic terrorism.
“America faces a multitude of challenges,” Nadler said Thursday. “But one of the greatest modern threats to our homeland is the danger posed by violent far-right extremists and White supremacists.”
Nadler added that “2020 had the highest number of domestic terror incidents and plots in over 30 years; 66% of those were by White supremacists, extremist militia members and other violent far-right extremists.”
Rep. August Pfluger R-Texas, talks with migrants he encountered at the Texas-Mexico border June 30, 2021.
(Jessica Weiner, Republican Study Committee)
But Texas GOP Rep. August Pfluger, a former Air Force fighter pilot and former national security adviser to President Trump, said the American people just don’t believe the Biden administration’s threat assessment.
“His testimony in front of Congress was absolutely shameful,” Pfluger told Fox News Digital. “He should be deployed to the southern border right now.”
Pfluger, who has called for Mayorkas’ resignation, said the pressing threats are not from domestic White supremacists, but from Russia, China, cyberattacks and people on the terror watch list coming across the southern border.
“I’ve spent my entire professional career analyzing threats, fighting against those threats [and] strategizing how to put our country into a better position to deter those [threats],” Pfluger said. “It’s 100% political narrative. At what point in time is Secretary Mayorkas going to put patriotism over politics?”
Marisa Schultz is a politics reporter for Fox News Digital. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter: @marisa_schultz