Skip to content

Mayorkas says congressional threats not affecting his work

Homeland secretary touts drug interdiction at mail-screening facility

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, left, tours a Customs and Border Protection International mail screening facility in New York City.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, left, tours a Customs and Border Protection International mail screening facility in New York City. (Niels Lesniewski/Pool/CQ Roll Call)

NEW YORK — Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said Thursday that ongoing investigations and the threat of impeachment from House Republicans are “not affecting me.”

“I am focused on the mission. And it is not in any way impacting these extraordinary men and women of the Department of Homeland Security who dedicate their talent, their creativity, their time, all too often away from family and loved ones, to serve the American public,” Mayorkas told reporters after a tour of the Customs and Border Protection international mail screening facility at John F. Kennedy International Airport.

While large quantities of fentanyl and other illicit drugs are coming across the southern border and through other carriers, Mayorkas said the effort to modernize the CBP international mail screening facility here is important. Fentanyl is particularly dangerous, he said, but dangers from drug trafficking did not start when President Joe Biden took office and picked Mayorkas to run the department.

“I was in the Department of Justice as a federal prosecutor for about 14 years and I prosecuted all sorts of drug trafficking crimes: marijuana, cocaine, black tar, heroin, methamphetamine. Nothing that I saw in those years compares to the danger you’re seeing now,” Mayorkas said. “The message I will say to the American people is we are unrelenting, and we are tireless in our fight against fentanyl and other synthetic drugs. We will not stop.”

Mayorkas spoke at a site that handles roughly 60 percent of inbound international mail.

“This facility interdicts millions of packages and traffickers in contraband have different ways of moving their contraband into the United States. Yes, through a large packages through bulk attempted transport, in commercial trucks, trailers and trucks, but also from small packages.” the secretary said. “We have sort of mom-and-pop operations that nevertheless even profit from the same destructiveness. And this facility specializes in the interdiction of small packages.”

He said that small packages can have effects well beyond their size: “One gun, as we know all too well, can cause a tremendous amount of destruction.”

A CPB official said similar facilities exist in partnership with private shipping giants FedEx and UPS, in Memphis, Tenn., and Louisville, Ky., respectively.

“I have said repeatedly that the Department of Homeland Security is a department of partnerships, and we partner with the express delivery services, as well as of course, the US Postal Service,” Mayorkas said. “We are incredibly proud of our partnership with the Port Authority in whose facility we are now a resident and we operate, but we work with those express carriers. We are working with the shipping companies. We are working with the private sector because this takes a holistic, really requires a holistic approach.”

Several resolutions calling for Mayorkas’ impeachment have been introduced in the House, citing what Republicans say is a failure to control the border with Mexico and thereby allow fentanyl to spread throughout the country.

On display at the secretary’s first stop on a facility tour was seized contraband, including plastic guns, folding weaponry and firearm parts, some of which were intended to be imported from Russia. He also observed a demonstration of a canine unit trained for drug interdiction and learned about the latest in X-ray technology.

The non-intrusive Inspection Technology on display Thursday was a modern X-Ray CT scanner backed by artificial intelligence, according to a CBP official at the site.

The screening machine, which looks much like a modern airport baggage screening device, is trained to recognize illicit drugs including ketamine and fentanyl. Called the IDSS Detect 1000, it’s currently being trained on improved fentanyl detection.

Beyond the drugs and guns, other contraband seized through the mail included a variety of agricultural products, as well as counterfeit goods including a replica of the Vince Lombardi trophy awarded to the NFL team that wins the Super Bowl.

Suzanne Monyak contributed to this report.

Recent Stories

Democrats decry ‘very, very harmful’ riders in Legislative Branch bill

Biden welcomes Kenya’s Ruto with talk of business deals and 1,000 candles

Noncitizen voting bill advances as Republicans continue messaging push

At the Races: Don’t call him the next Mitch

Norfolk Southern agrees to $1B in settlements for East Palestine

Justice Department seeks to break up concert giant Live Nation